Top tricks for rhubarb
Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum) used to be grown in every home garden when I was a kid, and rhubarb and apple pie was a weekly dessert. It seems that many people have trouble getting the stems to grow, ending up with lush leaves and stunted stems.
In WA there are a few tricks to successfully growing rhubarb.
But if you are yearning for the deep red- stemmed rhubarb, you will have to move further south where the weather is cooler. In Perth the summer months are too hot, and once it reaches above 34C, plants wilt.
You will need to build up the soil with compost and manure a few weeks before planting out. Rhubarb will grow in a wide range of soils, but prefers free-draining soils with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Most rhubarb is propagated by dividing up the crowns. If you are planting crowns, have the buds of the crowns just above soil level.
Rhubarb is a heavy feeder. It needs a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertiliser and magnesium sulphate applied every three months. Rock dust should be applied every year in spring.
You can tell by the size of the leaves that rhubarb plants like water. In mid-summer you may want to water once in the morning and again in the afternoon if the plant is wilting to the ground.
The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous to humans, but chooks can eat them.
If you see flowers forming, remove them — they take nutrients away from the stalks.
© The West Australian