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Can apple and rhubarb co-exist?

I am going to replace the worn out rhubarb this autumn and create a new bed in the old comfrey patch. This will be 14 feet x seven feet, well drained and south facing. The displaced comfrey are moving to a new border. The soil is very fertile having been devoted to comfrey for 20 years and is crumbly and rich in humus. I would like to plant four rhubarb crowns at 30 inch centres and two apple trees at the back of the bed as cordons grown as an apple hedge. Would I need to build a raised bed for the apples to raise them above the rhubarb, or would that be unnecessary? Will the Rhubarb and Apple get along alright together? 


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,678

    Good luck with moving comfrey. You will have the new patch and the old patch, unless you let the old regrow and then apply glyphosate  once or twice to clear the regrowth. 

    As long as the apples don't shade out the rhubarb they should be ok.

  • CapelglynCapelglyn Posts: 24

    Thanks for your advice. My garden has been organic since I bought the field 30 years ago. So never use any sort of chemicals.I started with one comfrey plant and each year sub divided this and now have around 100 plants, which the bees love. I have over that time had four large comfrey beds and as the veggies and raised beds expanded, have reduced these to just two. I have had no problems with regrowth in the beds that I cleared of comfrey and used for veggies. As the garden is above 1000 feet in the Snowdonia National Park I have never had any luck with apples, but want to try again with a raised bed with a south facing aspect and try to grow an apple hedge and see if this will work.

  • herbaceousherbaceous Posts: 2,314

    I think your Comfrey must be Bocking14, the sterile variety. I too have a comfrey patch and no problems with it spreading as it never sets viable seed, bees still love it though. My Dad always grew his rhubarb near the apple trees and, as Fidget says, as long as they are in the sun no problem. As long as the rhubarb is a good couple of feet from the tree it should be OK. I lost both my apple trees in storms but am planning to use a cordon as a boundary with the rhubarb as a border in front so I'll be interested to know how it works out.

    My rhubarb is at least a yard apart, sorry a metre, as the spread is huge even though I try and pick from the edges first. Also it makes mulching easier. You must return in a few years and let us know how the rhubarb and apples have fared.

    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • BobFlannigonBobFlannigon Posts: 619

    You won't need to build a raised bed, certainly not for the apples.  There's possible an argument for the other way around, though I wouldn't bother.  The potential problem you might encounter is the apple tree might steal moisture from the soil leaving the Rhubarb to under-perform.  Four crowns is lot of Rhubarb though, so if they do perform well you might be a semi-commercial producer by this time next year!

  • CapelglynCapelglyn Posts: 24

    "Four crowns is lot of Rhubarb though, so if they do perform well you might be a semi-commercial producer by this time next year!" LOLimage

  • josusa47josusa47 Posts: 3,530

    We'll all be round to yours for crumble!  image

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