Splitting and planting rhubarb can be a very daunting task and is one that I have to do every 5 or 6 years or so.
Rhubarb is such a great plant to grow if you have an allotment and is one of the first things I would recommend planting if you’re starting to grow your own. Rhubarb is also a great food stuff and there’s a lot you can do with it, whether it’s a crumble or simply stewed with your morning porridge.
The rhubarb on my plot is fairly low maintenance. When I say low maintenance, what I really mean is that I hardly ever touch it. I weed it every so often and I pick what I want from it. That’s pretty much it. In return I get a plant that covers a lot of ground, (which assists with keeping weeds down), is a great producer and provides a very cost effective yield.
In my own opinion, the rhubarb you buy in the shops is not of a high quality, but then again I may have just had a bad experience.
So I’m in the process of implementing a new plan at my allotment which has involved removing a grass path that separates my rhubarb patch and another bigger patch and re-aligning the edges of the original space.
In digging out the edges of the new patch, I found that my original rhubarb plants had quadrupled in size, which meant that I had to split them as best as I can and replant them. Splitting rhubarb looks and feels like a harsh procedure and because of this, it’s not something that I do very often. When splitting rhubarb, I follow these very simple rules… and hope for the best.
- Find the center of the crown – The center is where you pull most of the stems from
- Show no fear…
- Dig around the crown, about a foot from the center, leavering it up as you go..
- At this point, get another spade or fork and dig both in at opposites of the crown..
- Remember to show no fear..
- leaver out the crown from each side, try not to worry if you start to hear any large snaps at this point, eventually the rhubarb will give
- Once out… you should be left with a crater and a plantable rhubarb crown.
- Depending on how you got on, the rhubarb may have broken up naturally like mine did. If it didn’t, then be brave and chop it in half with a spade. It sounds weird and harsh, but it’s the only way I know.
My rhubarb was so difficult to dig out that I ended up breaking my spade! Not ideal, but keep calm and carry on.
Planting the rhubarb
When planting rhubarb, I guess the secret is not plant it too deep. So I dig a whole that’s probably less than half a spade’s depth deep and I pick a spot that’s about 3 to 4 foot away from everything and this is really for the sake of the span of the growth.
Once I dug the hole I added some compost from the compost bin, planted the crowns and then topped up the edges with more compost from the compost bin. If you have some well rotted manure, this will also be ideal too. Now that I’ve started to cut the grass, over the next few weeks, I’ll probably top the bed with fresh grass cuttings that will act as mulch during the dry spells.
Now – the thing to remember with planting rhubarb is that you can’t pick it for about a year and a half, otherwise you’re at risk of pulling out the plant.
There we have it! This is quite a daunting task… But take it one step at a time and show no fear! Good luck.