Rhubarb enthusiasts can hardly wait for the start of the season, because the time of the sour fruit enjoyment is coming to an end far too quickly. In order to enjoy the refreshing taste buds for as long as possible, you should know the indications of when it is ready for harvest. If that is not enough, the right harvesting technique is by no means a matter of course. Therefore, follow our guide to harvest rhubarb properly and avoid common mistakes. There are also tips and tricks for the best time to harvest rhubarb.

Evidence for the beginning of the harvest season

Under normal weather conditions and loving care, the time window for the harvest opens at the beginning of April . Since the processes in nature rarely follow a firmly cemented schedule, a glance at the calendar is not enough to give the best possible start to the season. These signs signal harvest-ready rhubarb:

  • The previously wavy rib fabric is now smoothed
  • The stalks take on a fresh green or enticing red colour
Tip: Ideally, rhubarb stalks can soak up plenty of sun in the days before harvest. This increases the natural sweetness, which reduces the addition of granulated sugar during later preparation.

Harvest right

It takes a careful approach if you want your rhubarb plant to provide you with a bountiful harvest for many years to come. How to harvest the fruit vegetables correctly:

  • Grasp each stalk at the base with your hand
  • Unscrew the stem clockwise
  • Never cut the rhubarb with a knife

Holding the rhubarb stalk, cut off the inedible leaf. The white stalk must also give way because there is concentrated oxalic acid at this point.

Tip: For a normally healthy adult, oxalic acid is safe. Since this ingredient blocks the absorption of iron in the body, increased consumption can be a concern for small children and adults with kidney disease. Careful peeling, removal of the stalk and heating during preparation reduce the oxalic acid content to a minimum.

Harvest time ends on St. John’s Day

The fruity-fresh rhubarb season traditionally ends on June 24th, St. John’s Day. This date makes perfect sense, as stalks harvested in summer have a high concentration of oxalic acid. In addition, the growth spurt that begins serves to regenerate your rhubarb plant, so that you can harvest plenty again next year.

Do not harvest before the second year of growth

Rhubarb is one of the longest-lived and most site-loyal crops. The plant must gradually build up this life force. If you give it the time it needs, the plant will reward you for this prudence with a vital powerhouse, chock-full of healthy vitamins and minerals. How to handle it correctly:

  • Harvest for the first time in the second year
  • End the first harvest season in mid-May
  • Leave some stems on the young plant

It undoubtedly takes some effort to finish the first harvest of rhubarb halfway through the normal time frame. If you succumb to the temptation now and continue harvesting the tender stalks, you will already be struggling with the problem of a weakened plant the following year.

Power for seven seasons

A properly cared for rhubarb plant gives its best for over 7 years. Afterwards she is largely exhausted. With great effort and distress, the fruit vegetable keeps itself upright for up to 10 years, only to then finally give up. Experienced gardeners do not exhaust the entire lifetime. Rather, the rootstock of the rhubarb is rejuvenated by division after the seventh harvest season.

Removing the flower increases crop yield

While the rhubarb harvest is in full swing, the plant strives to unfold its flowers from May. The fruit vegetable is primarily interested in propagating by self-sowing. As a result, she puts on a gorgeous array of flowers to attract pollinators like bumblebees and bees. The plant invests all its energy in developing this opulent splendor. The growth of the coveted fruit sticks falls by the wayside during this process. Your intervention is therefore essential to ensure that the already short harvest season does not end prematurely. How to proceed:

  • Do not remove a rhubarb flower with a knife or scissors
  • Instead, grasp the base of the stem with your fingers
  • Turn it clockwise and pull at the same time

Deprived of its flowering, the rhubarb plant disposes of its power reserves in the growth of numerous new fruit stalks.

Tip: The beautiful flower is far too good to carelessly throw away. As a decoration in the house, however, it still functions as a pretty eye-catcher for a long time. In addition, the closed buds are edible, for example as a steamed addition to vegetables.

Tricks for an early harvest

Those who do not want to wait until the start of the regular rhubarb harvest season can use the following gardening tricks.

  • Cover the plant with breathable garden fleece from January
  • Alternatively, surround with a thick layer of warming horse manure

This trick has proven itself in practice for an early harvest: A suitable bucket is placed over the rhubarb plant. This is wrapped in a layer of straw or hay. Put a larger bucket over it – the heat pack is ready. Now a warm microclimate develops, as a result of which the spears ripen faster. To prevent condensation from forming, the buckets are given a few small air holes.

Noble Varieties

The range of delicious rhubarb is by no means limited to the classic common rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum). Embark on a little voyage of discovery to culinary treasures and fine varieties :

  • Raspberry rhubarb ‘Frambozen Rood’ – The red-fleshed variety impresses with a mild, fruity aroma and rich red stalks. Because of the magnificent flowers, this breed is also called rose rhubarb.
  • Garden rhubarb ‘Holsteiner blood’ – The historic cultivar emerged in 1880 from a cross between ‘Red Delicacy’ and ‘American Giant’. To date, it has not lost its popularity thanks to its excellent cultural and taste properties.
  • Edible rhubarb ‘Red Valentine’ – With its rich red stalks, the plant invites you to sour and refreshing enjoyment. Bred in Canada, Red Valentine is endowed with an extra dose of robustness and resilience.
  • Edible rhubarb ‘Timperley Early’ – This hybrid of the common rhubarb is excellently suited for the measures described here for an early harvest. In addition, the variety scores with red leaf stalks, which retain their tender consistency throughout the season.
  • Edible rhubarb ‘Goliath’- If the red-fleshed rhubarb varieties are not sour enough, choose this variety with green flesh. With a mighty growth height of 90 cm, the name is aptly chosen.
  • Edible rhubarb ‘Rosara’ – Look forward to a sour taste experience that awakens the spirits. Rosara also has a lot to offer visually with an enchanting flower and green flesh, covered by a delicate pink skin.
  • Edible Rhubarb ‘Glaskin’s Perpetual’ – A masterpiece of brilliant breeders. The variety can be harvested from the first year. In addition, the green pulp contains less oxalic acid. While classic rhubarb hardens and tastes woody towards the end of harvest time, these stalks remain tender to the last.
  • Edible Rhubarb ‘The Sutton’ – The lover’s variety offers a feast for the senses. The pleasantly sour stems thrive in two colors in red and green. The winter-proof variety can already be harvested from the second half of March, provided the weather conditions cooperate.

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