The characteristics of rhubarb
- Type: vegetable plant
- Height: up to 2m
- Flower color: white, pink
- Desired exposure: partially shaded
- Type of soil: well drained
- Sanitizing: no
- Varieties: Rheum officinale, Rheum rhaponticum, Rheum x hybridum, Rheum rhabarbarum, Rheum tataricum
Origins and characteristics of rhubarb
Rhubarb (rheum) is a general name which designates around thirty species of perennial herbaceous plants of the polygonaceae family. Native to northern Asia, more specifically Siberia, the rhubarb has very large embossed leaves, green towards red.
Only the stems, usually red, are edible once the (toxic) filaments have been removed. Rhubarb can reach a height of 1.50m maximum, when it is in flower.
There are many species, such as Canada Red or Valentina, those with red or pink stems are the tastiest. The rhubarb is mainly cultivated to be cooked, it produces very good compotes and other sweet and savory dishes and accompaniments. Compotes, pies, jams… Rhubarb has many properties. It is purgative, aperitif, laxative ... and rich in vitamins B and C.
Rhubarb can be planted at two times of the year, in March-April, and in September-October. Prefer a well drained soil and a slightly shaded site, the rhubarb does not support the hot weather.
Rhubarb is a rustic plant which can withstand temperatures reaching -20 ° C.
It is preferable to plant it isolated in a vegetable garden, because its span can reach or even exceed 1 meter. Before planting, be sure to loosen your soil well on about 50cm and to incorporate manure well decomposed in the soil.
It is good to wait two years of growth before starting regular harvests. The latter are done between April and June, and between September and October, when the stems begin to be well fleshy.
In order to keep beautiful plants, you have to divide rhubarb feet every three years and replant them, knowing that a foot can be kept for up to ten years. Regularly, also remember to cut the flower stalks as soon as they appear.
Every year, during the fall, plan a supply of compost. When the weather is dry and hot, it is necessary to water your rhubarb plants regularly. Also mulch the feet to keep them cool during the summer season.
Rhubarb diseases and pests
Slugs and snails love its leaves. A bed of ashes will deter them from accessing it. For slugs, you can place a bowl of beer nearby to attract them. For snails, you can add sawdust or crumbled eggshell around the plant.
Rhubarb is particularly afraid of rust, like many vegetable plants. We notice its appearance when brown spots appear on the foliage. To avoid seeing your plants affected by rust, avoid watering the foliage in summer.
In the event of rust, remove and burn the affected plants. Then spray a nettle or horsetail manure on the other plants.
Culinary uses of rhubarb
In England and Holland, rhubarb is widely used. Cooked or raw, the rhubarb petioles can be tasted easily. Its sections returned in olive oil go well with savory dishes. You can also make pies, jams or compotes.
Benefits of Rhubarb
The substance secreted from its root has antiseptic properties for the liver. Rhubarb also contains vitamin C which gives it tonic and anti-anemic properties. Finally, it has laxative properties thanks to its richness in fibers.