In my eyes, there are few more perfect allotment crops than rhubarb. Rhubarb is my favourite harvest of the year, and is coming into season right about now.
If you’re just starting out on an allotment, I’d thoroughly recommend planting some of these delicious perennial plants, and here are 8 reasons why:
Rhubarb doesn’t mind some shade
Shady spots are often neglected on allotments as most veg will struggle without plenty of sun. Rhubarb doesn’t mind some shade though, so try popping a few crowns in if you’ve got a sun starved area. I planted my garden rhubarb against a fence, in a bed that saw only a few hours of sun, and I’ve been harvesting since early March (you can harvest from March – August with Sarah’s rhubarb collection).
When we’re slogging our way through February, the presence of rhubarb crowns, gently pushing up through the soil comes just when you really need a little dose of hope. By March, you’re not far from the first crops of the season, and the early rhubarb harvests are exhilarating moments, as well as a symbol of spring commencing.
I’m not sure there is a better smell on the plot than that of a freshly snapped rhubarb stem. I love breaking one in half and sucking up the syrupy scent almost as much as I do eating it.
Perennials are always a winner for low maintenance and dependability, and none more so than rhubarb. Reliable in poor soil, rhubarb will keep returning year after year with minimum fuss, especially if you treat your crowns to a good dollop of rich manure in Autumn time.
Multiplying your crop couldn’t be easier too. Simply divide old crowns by slicing up the massive roots. Don’t be scared to whip right through with a spade. I’ve found that so long as a bud remains on the crown, the rhubarb will be back. Robust old thing, those rhubarb crowns.
My mum has had the same patch for over 30 years, just dividing and mulching here and there as she goes along.
Rhubarb is so much fun to cook with, and there are almost limitless options for the sweet toothed amongst us. It makes stunning jam and divine crumble, as well as beautiful cakes (for more ideas, see Jude’s post called Rhubarb, Rhubarb). Perhaps best of all, is rhubarb crumble ice cream.
Rhubarb’s arrival is bang in the middle of the hungry gap, providing a much needed boost to the allotment readies. By this time I’m normally running low on my frozen fruit too, and desperate for something fresh.
Expensive in the Shops
When I did my allotment money saving experiment in 2011, I saved nearly £30 by growing my own rhubarb. At the beginning of the season, rhubarb can retail at up to £7.50 a kilo, and even as supplies become more available, it will still cost you nearly £4 a kilo.
Do you enjoy growing and eating rhubarb? Tell us why you grow it and how you like to eat it in the comments below…
Thanks for reading,