Why is my rhubarb fail­ing?

Amateur Gardening - - Ask The Ag Experts! -

QI have had two crowns of rhubarb for five years. They pro­duced lots of fruit un­til this year when the stalks were thin. What can I do?

Brenda Begi­na­gen (via email)

AThis is a com­mon prob­lem with rhubarb once it has cropped heav­ily for about five years.

Clumps should be di­vided every five or six years when the plant is dor­mant in late win­ter/early spring to in­vig­o­rate the plant. When re­plant­ing make sure each sec­tion/crown has a large bud.

It is best not to har­vest the stalks at all in the first sea­son af­ter re­plant­ing to al­low the newly planted crowns to build up re­serves and to es­tab­lish a strong, healthy root sys­tem.

Also, it is best not to har­vest rhubarb af­ter July as the leaves are needed to feed the crown buds for a good crop the fol­low­ing year.

Plant rhubarb in an open site, with moist but freely drain­ing soil that has plenty of well-rot­ted or­ganic mat­ter added. Space rhubarb plants about 90cm (3ft) apart leav­ing the tops of the crowns ex­posed.

Di­vide rhubarb for strong plants and don’t pick af­ter July

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