Why is my rhubarb failing?
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