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Growing Rhubarb from Seeds at Home – a Full Guide

Introduction to growing Rhubarb from seeds

Hello, my dear readers today I have brought one exceptional and beautiful treasure for your garden RHUBARB. Most of you might not know this beauty but the truth is, those who aren’t in the known about this stalky homegrown beauty are missing out something great. And you, too, can grow it in your own garden.

Rhubarb scientifically called Rheum rhabarbarum is a member of family Polygonaceae. It is a different sort of vegetable with attractive looks and uses; it is a perennial, which means it will come back every year. These plants are herbaceous perennial plants that grow up from thick, short rhizomes. Their large, fairly triangular-shaped leaves have long, fleshy petioles. The small rhubarb flower is grouped in large numbers having compound leafy inflorescences.

Is it fruit, vegetable, Or what?

Botanically a vegetable, rhubarb is often referred to as a fruit because, culinarily, it is usually used in pies, sauces, cookies, bars and jellies, and suits especially well with strawberries; so you may want to plant both. With its exceptional participation in culinary items, it is also called as “Pie Plant”. No wonder the word “rhubarb” seems to be one and the same as “pie”

A step by step guide to growing Rhubarb from seeds

A guide to growing Rhubarb.
A guide to growing Rhubarb.

Planting Rhubarb

Growing rhubarb indoors is quite easy as well as it can be grown outdoors by growing rhubarb in raised beds and even the smallest home-owners yard can accommodate plants by simply learning how to grow rhubarb in containers. So keep reading about this versatile plant and you will be provided with tasty, versatile rhubarb to make many amazing rhubarb dishes

For the reason that rhubarb is a perennial, its care is slightly different from that of other vegetables. You will have to be convinced that you are planting rhubarb along the edge of your garden so that it doesn’t bother your other vegetables when it grows up each spring. Many gardeners are familiar and advise to start growing rhubarb from divisions or crowns but you can also start it by using seeds that you can fetch from the nursery or any online retailer selling organic rhubarb seeds

Growing Rhubarb from the seeds

Rhubarb raised from seeds actually takes a year longer or more to produce stalks in comparison to the rhubarb grown from crowns or plant divisions. At a minimum, you will have to wait for two years for a decent harvest when starting from the seed. Also, if a particular rhubarb variety appeals to you on the basis of its characteristics, for example, its stem thickness, stem length, stem juiciness, vigor or the color, and then it is advisable to not start from the seeds, as you may end up with a plant that doesn’t preserve all these desirable attributes from the parent plant.

The stems of rhubarb raised from seed will not contain all that intense red color you might be dreaming of. a few stems will be red, some green, and some in between. But no worries they will all taste the same, ideal for your home-cooked pie means serving the purpose.

Nevertheless, if these do not matter to you, then you will definitely want to know how to grow rhubarb plants from seed there is a general consensus that rhubarb seed growing should be initiated indoors for the best chances of success.

Starting Rhubarb seeds

Rhubarb seeds are encased in a large paper-like shell called rhubarb seed pods. To speed up germination, you can soak your seeds in water for about 1-2 hours in lukewarm water before planting. If you’re starting indoors, plant the seeds in compost or other in some suitable organic planting mixture, it is recommended to sow 2 seeds per 2 to 3-inch pot near about a ¼ inch (somewhat less than 1 cm.) deep

Using peat pots makes transplanting quite easier. Rhubarb seeds germinate rapidly when sown in the warmth of late August or during early September. You must keep your seedlings uniformly moist but make sure you don’t over-water it (the seedlings can die off from root rot if the ground is too watery).

You can transplant the young plants out into the garden or growing rhubarb in pots whatever suits you about two weeks prior to the average last frost, into an area prepared with compost or well-rotted manure and ample of organic matter. The plants must be about 4 inches tall for better establishment. You can mulch your seedlings to preserve even soil moisture and maintain the roots cool.

You must harden plants off ahead of transplanting or look after the new transplants with cover unless the danger of frost has passed.

Requirements for Growing Rhubarb from seeds

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Requirements for Growing Rhubarb.
Requirements for Growing Rhubarb.

Rhubarb thrives in cool locations and full sun. In warmer climates, plants get an advantage from light shade but produce longer, thinner stems.

You must select a site that is well-drained, fertile, and if possible in full sunlight. Rhubarb grows best where the average temperature falls less than 40ºF in the winter and below 75ºF in the summer.

Rhubarb will not thrive in a soggy soil which is overwatered, as there it will be susceptible to root rot, one of the few problems rhubarb can come across. If your soil is heavy and doesn’t drain well, then growing rhubarb in raised beds is a good decision.

Now you must be thinking How to grow thick rhubarb stalks the answer is here, grow rhubarb from root divisions, known as crowns, rather than growing rhubarb from seed because it can produce plants that are not true to type, it is a more time taking process and availability of organic rhubarb seeds can also be a problem.

Before planting the crown, prepare a hole at least 1.5 feet deep and 3 feet wide inappropriate location. Loosen the soil and enrich it with about a 6-inch layer of compost, rotted manure, or anything high in organic matter is the best fertilizer for rhubarb.

Set the crowns of rhubarb divisions 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. Don’t burry them more than 1 or 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) into the soil or they won’t grow up. Crowns must be planted about 1 to 2 feet (.30 to .60 m.) apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet (.60 to .91 m.) apart preferably on the outside edge of the garden.

Transplanting Rhubarb

The need for transplantation arises when you wish to increase the size of your rhubarb garden. It simply involves the division of the crown and root system and the successive rhubarb transplanting. This can be achieved by propagating from 4 to 5-year-old crowns of an established plant. Even though transplanting rhubarb can be done in the spring or even in fall, but it is often recommended to transplant the crowns in early spring as the plants begin to come out of dormancy and it is the ideal time to divide them.

At this time early growth is just commencing on the rhubarb plants, so you can easily observe where it is best to divide the root mass.

Insert the blade of your spade about 6 inches into the soil and dig in the region of the base of rhubarb clump. Slide the spade underneath the root mass and pull it back to lift the entire root clump from the bed. Try to avoid cutting into the roots else it will cause injury to the bud.

Now you can easily locate the buds on the rhubarb crown, about near the top of the root mass. Buds look like swollen areas that indicate a growing point for the stems. Each section must include at least 2 or 3 buds, or “eyes”, and a good part of the root.

It is said larger the size of the crown, the earlier new planting will become established upon transplanting.

Always choose plants as parent plant which are healthy, and essentially disease and pest free.

Prior to using your garden tools, wash off any dirt and debris from the blades; then wipe the blades properly with a clean cloth or even you can clean it with a paper towel moistened with rubbing alcohol. This two-step practice will assist you to avoid spreading diseases/spore to your rhubarb plants.

For every rhubarb crown, dig a planting hole of about 4 inches deep and twice as wide as the size of the crown

Set the rhubarb root in the hole in an upright position with the crown bud roughly 2 inches below the surface of the soil.

Fill up the hole with soil, firming it about the roots but not directly over the bud; water it thoroughly. You must keep the soil moist at all times, watering once or twice weekly according to the requirement. You can also mulch the bed with a layer of straw.

So with this, you are done with transplanting and you can expect new growth within two to four weeks after transplanting.

Harvesting Rhubarb

When you are ready to harvest rhubarb, don’t remove the young leaves during the first year of planting, as this will not allow your plant to expand to its full potential.

It is recommended to not harvest any stalks during the first growing season so that your plants can become established and yield more.

Harvest the stalks when they are about 12 to 18 inches long. It stages will come usually after 3 years of planting, the harvest period runs 8 to 10 weeks long. If the stalks become thin, it is an indication that you must stop harvesting; this means the plant’s food reserves are running low.

For harvesting take hold of the base of the stalk and draw it away from the plant with a gentle twist, avoid injuring underground buds. If this doesn’t work, you can simply cut the stalk at the base. Be sure to get rid of the leaves and prune off flower stalks as they appear.

Make sure you leave at least 2 stalks per plant to ensure continued production. The rhubarb plant is a long time term investment you can have a plentiful harvest for up to 20 years without having to replace your rhubarb plants.

After harvest time, the stems may die back at that time you just have to remove all plant debris. Once the ground freezes, it is recommended to cover rhubarb with 2 to 4 inches of mulch, if possible with well-rotted compost with this you’re preparing the rhubarb plants for the coming spring season.

You can harvest about 2 to 6 pounds of rhubarb every season from a full-size plant. Cool and moist weather tends to add to productivity, whereas warm, dry conditions may reduce the yield.

Problems encountered when growing Rhubarb from seeds

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Problems in growing Rhubarb.
Problems in growing Rhubarb.

Now we shall discuss the rhubarb growing problems which will affect the growing progress to a greater extent

  1. First and foremost conditioning is eliminating all perennial weeds not only when growing rhubarb but this step must be followed for every plant. Weeds compete for nutrition, sunlight, water, and sometimes may attract pests and diseases.
  2. Another problem often found with growing rhubarb is less knowledge and misconceptions about it remember only the stalks of rhubarb are edible. The leaves contain oxalate, making them poisonous when consumed in large quantities.
  3. Rhubarb is usually is known to be pest-free. Infrequently it’s attacked by European corn borers and cabbage worms. A more probable pest is rhubarb curculio, which is a rust-colored beetle that you can easily control by handpicking and sanitization.
  4. The occurrence of diseases also rare, but rhubarb can surrender to Verticillium wilt, which causes yellowing of leaves early in the season and can wilt entire plants in its later stages. Crown rot can also occur in shady, overwatered soil.
  5. Hence you must remove and destroy infected plants; thinned stalks to promote proper air circulation and clean up thoroughly around crowns during the fall season. If the stands become critically diseased, you must destroy the entire stand. Prefer replanting disease-free stock in a new location or you can always look for disease-resistant varieties.

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