Forcing Champagne Rhubarb involves covering the crown with a pot to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the plant. As the plant looks for light, the shoots will grow longer, producing an early crop. The result should be a rhubarb plant offering fresh, pink stems at least two or three weeks earlier than uncovered crowns.
Traditionally, this method would involve using a rhubarb pot, much like the ones you’d see here. Instead, I’ve decided to improvise (in true allotment style) and build a structure that will allow me to drape weed control fabric over the whole bed.
I know what you’re thinking, and I agree – this does look a little bit unusual, but it is a cost effective solution. To weigh down the fabric, I’ve placed stones and crockery around the edges of the frame.
I’ve done some reading on the interweb about Champagne Rhubarb, and there is actually a point of confusion about the term “Champagne Rhubarb”.
Yorkshire Indoor Rhubarb to chefs and cooks is what Champagne is to wine lovers. Not to be confused with the outdoor variety that I have which is known, as Rhubarb Champagne.
Rhubarb Champagne is an ideal variety to grow an allotment as it’s easy to grow and will put up with quite a bit of neglect. They’re generally quite tough plants that yield a sweet tasting, reliable crop – great in a crumble, as a jam or simply stewed with some ice cream on top.
I’m just hoping my homemade rhubarb forcing frame will put up with the wind and elements as good as the plants!
Forcing Champagne Rhubarb update 6/02/2016
The wind totally decimated the structure I built, so let this be a lesson learned, which is to come up with something more stable when forcing rhubarb! Like rhubarb pots for instance…