The Right Way to Harvest Rhubarb in 3 Steps

rhubarbRhubarb, with its delicious edible leaf stalks loaded with a tangy yet sweet, crisp flavor, often serves as the perfect companion for strawberries or as the main ingredient in pies, jams and jellies. These tasty cool-weather veggies are great additions to any edible garden.

Here are a few tips on how to harvest rhubarb:
•    Plant new or established: Rhubarb, if newly planted, should not be harvested the first year, to help the plant establish itself. Wait a year or two before you begin to harvest.
•    Check if it is “ripe”: The first step is to make sure the plant is ready to be harvested. This is relatively easy to do. The best time to harvest is from spring to early summer—usually April to June. Although they can be picked into early fall, you want to make sure that you stop collecting the yummy stalks well before the last frost, to help ensure that the plant makes it through winter. The best stalks to harvest should be at least 10 to 15 inches long. You can keep harvesting from your plant, roughly 8 to 10 weeks, for rhubarb established more than four years and 1 to 3 weeks for less. Make sure to leave some stalks—usually a third to near half of the plant—to help your rhubarb recover. This way you can have a bountiful yield from the same plant for many years to come!
•    How to harvest: Gently grab near the base of the desired stalk and slowly pull and twist. It is as simple as that! Sometimes the stalk may be resistant to break away and you might need a pair of gardening shears to help coax the stalk away from the base.  Make sure to cut the leaves off the stalks and discard them; they are poisonous and should never be consumed.

Once harvested, you can enjoy these scrumptious veggies by adding them to your favorite recipes!

Image: Anders Sandberg
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