Now in stock – Rhubarb crowns and potted rhubarb
Although it’s actually a vegetable, most people consider rhubarb (Rheum x hybridum) a fruit due to it’s sweet flavour and common use in desserts. It’s an easy crop to grow, so great for beginner gardeners! Rhubarb is harvested in early spring before other fruits are ready and as it’s a hardy perennial, once you’ve got it, you’ve got it for good! Originating from Asia over 2000 years ago, it was first cultivated as a medicinal plant but began to be grown for culinary purposes in Britain during the 18th century. (The Victorians had a craze for rhubarb after the variety ‘Victoria’ was introduced in 1837 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Victoria.) The large green leaves of rhubarb are actually poisonous but the pink/red stems may be cut and used in pies, jams, jellies, sauces and juices. Rhubarb may also be forced to produce extra-early crops in late winter.
Rhubarb crowns for planting now:
‘Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise’ – £3.50 each or 3 for £10
Recently introduced, ‘Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise’ has an Award of Garden Merit from the RHS and has been voted the best-flavoured rhubarb in the RHS trials at Wisley. The plants are strong growers with bright red stems – not only do they taste great, they look great too! Height and spread up to 1.4m.
Rhubarb crowns may be planted from autumn to spring. Best situated in a sunny spot in any well-drained soil which has had plenty of well-rotted manure dug in. Make sure the top of the crown sits 3cm below soil level, and space them at 75cm intervals. Keep plants well-watered in their first year and apply an annual mulch of home-made compost or manure. Cut back old leaves in autumn to expose the growing points to winter cold.
Potted rhubarb – ‘Timperley Early’ – £3.99
The earliest cultivar, it produces high yields of thick stems, deep red at the base, fading to light green with red flecks. Bred for forcing but crops very well outside. (Colour is better when forced.) May need protection from frost. Height and spread 1-1.5m x 1.5-2.5m. RHS Award of Garden Merit.