First off, I must confess Rhubarb is by far not my favourite vegetable. I will begrudgingly swallow down mouthfuls of crumble out of courtesy when presented with it by friends or family, otherwise I generally avoid anything Rhubarb related when out.
My boyfriend, on the other hand, loves Rhubarb and became fairly excited when we discovered a Rhubarb crown in our new garden. A couple of years ago I acquired a Terracotta Rhubarb Forcer and now, here in January, it is a perfect time to put this to use.
I would advise anyone to only try forcing established rhubarb crowns. You can raise rhubarb from seed or buy one year old rhubarb crowns from your local garden centre. If you are planting a new crown always follow the planting instructions and then leave the plant to grow naturally for the year, harvesting any shoots that appear, giving the plant time to settle into its new home. I shall be planting a new crown myself beside my existing adopted crown so I can switch between which plant is forced next year allowing the first to recoup ready to be forced the year after.
Here are some tips on how to force established Rhubarb along with us this month:
1] With established plants, clear away any old leaves and winter debris from around the crown.
2] Next give the soil around the rhubarb a boost by digging in some well rotted manure or fresh garden compost if you have either. This will help top up the nutrient levels in your soil for your rhubarb to feed off.
3] If you haven’t acquired a rhubarb forcer, then don’t worry, a large upturned pot or dustbin can work just as well so long as all light is blocked out. Place your chosen forcer over the crown.
4] Keep an eye on progress and in a couple of months time the forced rhubarb should be ready for picking!