Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable famous for its tart-flavored pinkish-green stalks, although it’s used as a sweetened fruit in pies, tarts, and jams. Here’s how to plant, grow, and harvest your own rhubarb!
Rhubarb originally came from Asia. It was brought to Europe in the 1600s and to America not long thereafter. It thrives in areas with a cooler climate, making it popular in northern gardens. Rhubarb is easy to grow, but needs a dormancy period to really thrive and produce an abundance of huge stalks.
The stalks are the only edible part of the rhubarb plant. These have a rich, tart flavor when cooked. The leaves of the rhubarb plant are toxic—they contain an irritant called oxalic acid—so be sure that they are not ingested.
What’s wonderful about rhubarb is that it’s a perennial: It will produce for many years—five or more. For that reason, rhubarb should be planted in its own space in any corner of the garden where it can grow undisturbed.
Rhubarb grows well in soil amended with plenty of well-rotted manure or compost; this has inspired some gardeners to just go ahead and plant it near their compost piles!