Do you grow? Rhubarb ~ Start your own from seed

in doyougrow •  10 months ago

#doyougrow rhubarb? It has to be my favourite perennial. Free food that produces year after year without effort. Amazing, right?

Some of a rhubarb harvest from last spring. That is me behind there!
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The stalks and leaves of the rhubarb plant die back before first frost of the fall, but the plants are among the first to awaken in early spring. I think it is our first harvest every year!

Rhubarb waking up...you can see easily where you could divide the crowns into new plants
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Stunning foliage, but remember the leaves are poisonous!
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Many of us have inherited a plant by moving somewhere that had an existing one, or maybe you've been gifted with a few crowns from someone's own plant. Rhubarb is notoriously easy to divide and propagate, it will overtake a garden spot in a few years if not managed! Dividing it and sharing it does the plant good.

This plant needs to be divided, it is huge!
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But

If you haven't got a rhubarb plant of your own or can't find a plant to get divisions from, then starting your own from seed is the answer! Rhubarb seeds are fairly easy to find, check your favorite seed company or a friend who has a plant who may save the seeds. It is far more cost effective, and if they are started early enough a few stalks can be harvested late in fall of the first year.

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When starting your seeds, remember that rhubarb is a cool-weather crop. It grows happily in zones 2-8 and enjoys full sun. In zones under 6, I would heavily mulch to increase overwinter survival. You can transplant it in early spring so if you have a good, established plant it will take off for you. I am not sure what type I have growing now as I inherited this 20+ year old rhubarb patch from tenants of long ago.

The original rhubarb patch that started it all....
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I am planning on expanding our original patch of rhubarb with 2 new varieties from organic seed I ordered.

Himalayan Rhubarb
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It would cost way to much to purchase divisions at a nursery. I have about 40 seeds and it cost me the same as one plant would.

You might want to split on seeds with a friend, keep in mind that one rhubarb plant can provide for a whole household, they are large plants! You will see it is as easy to start as any other seed.
I will post a blog about how to divide rhubarb crowns in the spring when I can photograph the process

Rhapontic Rhubarb
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Start rhubarb indoors 8-10 weeks before transplanting in mid-May where plants are to grow permanently. If you live somewhere with extreme heat in the summer months, choose a location with some afternoon shade. First step is to soak the seeds for an hour or two to soften the papery outer shell.

Rhubarb seeds soaking, chilling until planting time
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Prep your starter tray or pots by filling with damp seed starting mix. Rhubarb is happy with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Use 2"-3" pots, or larger cell trays. I am using a 50 cell starting tray and will pot up to a 4" pot once before final transplant to outdoors. They say rhubarb is fussy but I have found the opposite to be true. I grew from seed last year for a community project and they transplanted beautifully.

Cells are 2" across, 50 per tray
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Poke holes 1/2" deep into the starting mix. If using pots 2-3 seeds per is fine. I am putting one seed per cell to avoid crowding of the roots and to make transplanting into 4" pots later easier.

1/2" holes for seeds
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Soaked seeds
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Cover seeds with seed starting mix and press down on seeds lightly. Water lightly to ensure the soil is evenly moist, water only when necessary as you do not want to drown the seeds.

Gently firm seeds into place
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Top up cells with starter mix to evenly cover seeds
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Ready to go!
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You should use a dome of some sorts, I find it always helps starting any seed. Heat isn't the biggest deal with rhubarb seeds, 70° is good so a heat mat isn't nescessary - but it will speed germination up. Seeds should sprout in 5-10 days. As with most seedlings, no fertilizer is required for about 4 weeks.

Now time to grow!
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Once they peek through the soil, take off the dome and provide 18/6 light and as always, a fan. It is a fact that baby rhubarb plants are adorable, so get ready to fall in love!

Baby rhubarb
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I would love to hear all about your rhubarb plants or if you are starting from seed this year. What #doyougrow rhubarb for?

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Thank you for reading! Take care of you and yours ❤

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Thank you so much for all this awesome info! I'm yet to grow Rhubarb but want to start this year. I'm excited about all the perennials that give their gifts year after year. How magical nature is! Love it!

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Nature is so divine ❤ I am working on a perennial vegetable garden/food forest....there are so many good ones to try. Climate is a big one for overwintering but it is all a challenge!! Thank you for the kind words ❤

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Seriously! What an awesome post on an awesome perennial!! I adore this plant so much 💜 i transplanted a root that was shared with me by a teacher last year. Didn't get anything last year. Will see how she does after this winter 🤞.

The picture of you holding a bundle of harvested rhubarb at the start is EPIC 😂
Must have been so nice hugging that beautiful bundle! Love that image.

Thank you for contributing your knowledge to help others! The Sotall Community has linked to your post here.. If you write any future articles with instructions on how to do any tasks related to a homestead or survival, to ensure they are added to the directory, please submit them. They will be added as soon as possible.

Gotta love Rhubarb! It is one of the few crops that survive so great in Alaska that even here in the -40 winters its in everyones yard. And thanks to our long summer days they get huge here. Thank you for the info on starting them from seed good to know! :)

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It is so hearty! I love that everyone has one in their yard there!! It is hard to believe that warmth is not optimal, I am used to the opposite problem with every plant I try to grow here!!

I did not know that the leaves were poisonous !!
Thank you for all these explanations very informative, I know a lot about the garden,
but we always learn more thanks to others !!

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Poisionous to humans and animals! You can use the leaves in between rows of plants in the garden and they will repel insects and weeds as well:)

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Thank you for this advice !!

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So smart!! Thank-you for stating this. :)

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No problem:)

I have 2 huge rhubarb plants right now and they produce more stalks than I could ever use...
I have been making rhubarb wine with my rhubarb, last year I got a bit carried away and made a 2 gallon batch of strawberry rhubarb wine and a 5 gallon batch of just rhubarb wine. I really don't know what I'm going to do with all that wine...I suppose I'll have to drink it...
I let one of the plants go to seed 2 years ago just to see what it would do. Last year I had little rhubarb plants coming up everywhere in about a 10-12 foot radius circle of the big plant. Those things were everywhere! LOL

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Yes! They are unstoppable haha! Strawberry rhubarb wine sounds sooo good....I was thinking of getting into ciders but that sounds great:)
I haven't let one go to seed yet here..I might this year to get more of this variety...Seems easier than starting them indoors lol!

Great info. I've never grown it before, just might give it a try.

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I hope you do! Start seeds once, harvest for years <3

well thank you for this. I grow a lot of rhubarb and often divide the plants but I never even though of seeds. We want to keep expanding our patch so this is really quite interesting and I'm going to have to give it a shot! :)

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You have more than enough time to start some plants that will be really hardy before spring! I would love to hear about how it goes if you do:)

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I'm looking for seeds as I type this! We've got ages to go before I can start my seeds anyhow. Very excited about this! Thanks again.

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I really like your motto "Take care of you and yours." I have not eaten Rhubarbs, but they look so healthful. What do they taste like?

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Thank you <3
Rhubarb has a sour taste, if eaten raw it is like a sour candy. The stalks are good dipped in sugar or it is cooked down and used in things like jams, pie fillings or Bbq sauce:)

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Very interesting! I did not expect it to be sour. Have a good one!

Man, again something I need to save and can’t resteem. I am going to be planting rhubarb from seed.
Thank you!

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Good luck with the rhubarb!!

I live in zone 2 and rhubarb grows real well here. I will be splitting a plant this spring. Thank you.

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I bet! Rubarb doesn't mind the cold at all:) c'mon spring haha!!

Gotta love rhubarb! We have lots growing here, more than I can use, I gave some to lyndsay to give out with her #foodisfree veggies last year :)

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Omg yes so much free rhubarb! I give it away frozen in the winter too haha! It is such a productive beast. Love my rhubarb <3

Well, I hadn’t planned on growing any this year, but you talked me into it! :D

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Hehe it is contagious;)

Very informative post thanks for sharing.