Forum home Fruit & veg


Hi Everyone. I have grown rhubarb for the first time this year. I have read somewhere that I cannot eat the rhubarb that is currently growing. Is this true. Thanks


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,260
    Usually you do not pull any sticks off the rhubarb the first year so that it builds up the plant.  However it is safe to eat.   For forced rhubarb, they use three year old plants and then exclude light to get pink sticks . This weakens the plant  and so it cannot be repeated every year.  With normal rhubarb, you only pull sticks off in the early part of the year, letting it build up  the plant in summer.
  • tony_trooptony_troop Posts: 1
    I have 3 new rhubarb plants year. I’ve read that you shouldn’t harvest in first year. Is that correct? Because these plants have lots of thick stems and very large leaves.
    any advice please
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,097
    Hi @tony_troop  and welcome to the forum 😊 

    Yes that’s right … don’t harvest in the first year. Your plant needs to build up a good crown for the future. 

    Only harvest lightly in the second year. 

    Never take more than one third of the available stems and never harvest after the end of June. 

    Mulch with lots of well-rotted manure when the leaves die down  in the autumn. 

    Keep it well watered in the summers … even when it rains the leaves act as an umbrella so the roots can be very dry, so when watering pour buckets full of water slowly and directly onto the root area so that it soaks in and doesn’t run off the surface. 

    A bucket full of water three times a week is good … more if it’s very hot like last year. 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • pinutpinut Posts: 182

    If they are normal rhubarb grown in full sun then you can pick some of the stalks (not all) if the plants are growing healthily. Pick stalks which will likely be shaded out or be squashed by the newer growth on top.

    If you know that the rhubarb crowns are definitely well established with a good root system then you can pick the rhubarb clean and they will grow again. Healthy growth for a year or two is often taken as a sign that the crowns are well established.

    Many plants including rhubarb have two flushes of growth a year: once in spring (around April time) and once in mid to late summer (around late July to mid August).

    This titbit of information will allow you to pick the rhubarb clean twice a year: make the first picking by mid July, pick again in November. Then, protect the crowns from cold winds until next spring.

    When picking the stalks, you must break the stalks off at the point where they meet the crowns and not leave any stubs behind which could rot back and infect the crowns.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,460
    I'd happily go with Dove's advice, tony_troop.  The manure she mentions is food for the roots below, and can be substituted with random rottable material like brassica leaves, as and when they present themselves during normal gardening activity.  The more you feed and the less you take, the faster the plant will grow.  The cooled liquid from boiled rhubarb leaves can be sprayed on aphids to kill them.
  • pinutpinut Posts: 182
    I am quite sceptical about using rhubarb leaf solution as an insecticide since I have observed colonies of black aphids with accompanying farmer ants on the underside of rhubarb leaves starting from around June time.

    It would make more sense to use tomato or mint leaves as I have never observed any significant aphid infestations on those and there are loads of tomato and mint growing in the garden right now.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,460
    Your call, pinut.  I only say what I do, but opinions differ.
Sign In or Register to comment.