As we progress through winter, thoughts turn to preparing the land for whatever food we are going to try and grow and I've decided to learn more about how to grow rhubarb.

Rhubarb

Over the past few years we haven't been without rhubarb. I've grown it from seed, grown it from 'cuttings' when friends have split crowns and have even bought small crowns when they have been on clearance in garden centres or the local hardware store. Each time I got a decent rhubarb bed going, we seemed to have moved house without taking much with us: it's never been the right time to dig it out the ground.

Thankfully, when we moved here a few years ago, I had some seed grown rhubarb in a pot plus we were lucky enough to uncover a patch while reclaiming the garden. After the past four years of trying to improve it, I have now decided to split it up and move whatever I can to a new rhubarb patch in the fruit garden at Frugaldom.

Rhubarb is said to prefer slightly acidic soil and doesn't like to be too dry, so planting it near the edge of the peat bog could be a good move - time will tell. Meanwhile, I need to get out there and dig before the ground freezes and get a nice mix of horse manure through the area I plan on using. Based on what I have read so far, the rhubarb crowns need some frost to stimulate the new growth and we've had very little of that in the garden this year so far. Frugaldom, however, sits about 300m higher and has already had some snow and ice, so that sounds like my best option.

I'll follow up this blog post as soon as I have dug up the crowns from the garden - it's still like autumn here, so they shouldn't know any difference. Splitting up the old crowns should also help bring on a better crop of rhubarb here, so there should be none of this running out of it during the later months. Ideally, I'd like to grow a year-round supply of both rhubarb and apples. I've ordered 10 heritage Galloway Pippin apple trees to start a new orchard at Frugaldom, so 2016 should be an exciting year for fruit growing, between these and the new strawberry beds we started last year with all the runners from the garden.

Great source of information about rhubarb growing - http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/

Edited in - while out rummaging in the ground for the first rhubarb crown, I popped the last of my garlic cloves into their raised bed and spotted about half a dozen from previous planting have already sprouted. My rhubarb bed, on the other hand, looks like it's been bulldozed and then used as a giant litter tray! It's a firm reminder of why I like holly and brambles growing about the place! They're about the only things over which the dratted cats won't walk to get at fruit, veg or herb beds!

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