What to know about growing rhubarb – Press Telegram

Q: Is it possible to grow rhubarb in Southern California?

A: Most commercially grown rhubarb in the United States comes from Washington, Oregon, and Michigan, states with much more rain and colder temperatures than Southern California. It is possible to grow it in certain parts of California, but it may not thrive as in colder, humid places.

Rhubarb is considered a perennial plant with a cool, hardy season that is relatively resistant to frost. It usually propagates through crowns planted at only 3-6 inches deep in early spring. Seeds are also available, but your results may vary. Prefers fertile, well-drained, slightly acidic soils (pH 6-7).

When daytime temperatures drop below 40 degrees, you should see the outbreak. It is happiest and most productive when daytime temperatures are around 70 and nighttime temperatures reach 50. The plant should remain productive if the temperature remains below 90. This can be a problem for warmer areas.

If you’re lucky, try planting it on the north or east side of your property in a safe place. Note that this plant can be quite large. Ours was over 6 feet in diameter. Colder temperatures result in redder stems, so don’t be surprised if your rhubarb isn’t as beautiful as the photos in the catalog. If your weather is especially hot, you can only grow it as an annual ornamental.

If you are interested in everything ornamental qualities of rhubarbSwiss chard varieties such as “Rhubarb” or “Bright Lights” are best suited for warm areas, and are similar in appearance to rhubarb.

You can start harvesting the stems when the plant is two years old. First-year plants will still be a little insignificant and should be given a year to settle. (That’s why I don’t recommend growing it in hot areas; you’ll never be able to pick decent-sized stems).

To harvest, cut the stem near the base of the plant, then remove the entire leaf. I like to use a large chef’s knife to throw the blade directly into the composter. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is quite toxic. Do not pick stems that have been damaged by frost as oxalic acid will migrate from the leaves to the stems. Once the plant has gone through the heat, the stems will become loose, disgusting and unsuitable for harvesting. Never remove more than a third of the plant unless you want to kill it.

Rhubarb can be safely frozen for later use. Scalding in boiling water will help preserve color and texture, but it is not entirely necessary. It can also be canned or made into jam or marmalade. Always use a proven recipe when canning. These can be found on any cooperative extension or university website. Companies who make canned productslike Ball or Kerr, they are also good sources of reliable and safe recipes.

Do you have any questions? e-mail gardening@scng.com.

Looking for more gardening tips? Here’s how to contact the Master Gardener program in your area.

Los Angeles County

mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/

Orange County

ucceocmghotline@ucanr.edu; 949-809-9760; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/

Riverside County

anrmgriverside@ucanr.edu; 951-683-6491 ext. 231; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/

San Bernardino County

mgsanbern@ucanr.edu; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu/

What to know about growing rhubarb – Press Telegram Source link What to know about growing rhubarb – Press Telegram

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