8 Reasons to Grow Your Own Rhubarb

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.

Rhubarb

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).

Hope!

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.

Jono picking rhubarb

Sugary Scent

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.

Low Maintenance

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.

Easy Propagation

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.

Delicious

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 crumble icecream
Hungry Gap

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,

jono-signature

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8 responses to “8 Reasons to Grow Your Own Rhubarb

  1. The thing I love about rhubarb is the timing – the very first new crop of the year, and a reminder of why we do it all. That and how easy it is to grow, although I did lose one the winter before last after that really wet summer. When I lifted the crown it was literally dripping with water.

  2. My rhubarb is looking fantastic this year and I am just about to go and get my breakfast – yogurt with poached rhubarb that I made last night. I will be soon be making rhubarb cordial and rhubarb jam with vanilla. I love cooking it with blueberries or strawberries for a compote to eat with pannacotta and I always make Christopher Lloyd’s Rhubarb Tart at least once in the season. Not to mention all that lovely crumble!

  3. Yes I like to leave the allotment every time with something edible and presently it’s lovely rhubarb. I stew it gently with a small amount of brown sugar for five minutes. I cool it and place a layer in the bottom of six ramekin dishes. Then I make a vanilla panna cotta and spoon this over the top.of each little ramekin. When it’s set invert the dishes and gently ease out so that the rhubarb drizzles over the creamy panna cotta.. Heavenly.

  4. It’s lovely to have a pudding/chutney/jam/compote from the garden in the depths of spring and really kicks off the gardening year. I’ve been harvesting from a friend’s rhubarb clump in March, my own Glaskin’s will be ready for first pickings by mid-April and I planted a couple of champagne crowns under the fruit trees in January when I realised they would tolerate shade. I’m making rhubarb cake this weekend and will try rhubarb cordial next. It’s all good stuff!!

  5. Rhubarb tarts. Short pastry with a thin layer of marzipan, rhubarb and brown sugar. Bake for 30 mins. That’s our favourite recipe.

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