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Rhubarb flowering already


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gusto66
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:41 am    Post subject: Rhubarb flowering already Reply with quote

I have a rhubarb plant that's starting to flower already, with very thin leaf stalks. If I remove the flower heads, will this promote more stalk growth? If so how should I remove them?
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds to me as though something is amiss if your Rhubarbs already flowering. Cut the flower stalk off as close as you can to the botom, but I would check if it's root system is OK. I'm assuming your growing it outside?
Bill.

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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:04 am    Post subject: corked rhubarb without custard Reply with quote

Hi! gusto66. Welcome to the menagerie. If you get a chance, post hello to the appropriate place, so that hundreds of members get to wave back and don't be afraid to build on your profile. You have just joined possibly the world's best gardening forum.

Flowering is an uncommon feature and my Timberley never ever does it. I believe "champagnes" may and if so cut out the flower at once. If your rhubarb (assuming it is an edible type) is in it's first year, you don't want to be harvesting anything off it. Just provide a little water every day and admire the leaves. I'm assuming you will have planted it in the richest soil you could find, even straight compost?

Subject to what any other rhubarb expert comes in with, this is a funny situation. This is a totally wrong time for such a plant to 'flower' or 'bolt'.

Are you absolutely certain as to what you have here? I am aware of today's date.

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Last edited by walltoall on Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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gusto66
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:11 am    Post subject: rhubarb flowering already Reply with quote

Thanks Bill! Will cut the flower heads off - but what could be wrong with the root system? Yes its outdoors on a raised bed.
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont know about modern varieties, but edible Rhubarb will flower if you don't keep pulling. This could be it's first spring in the garden, but even so, it shouldn't be flowering yet. But as you say, is it Rhubarb?
Bill.

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BlackBird
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 11:23 am    Post subject: Re: rhubarb flowering already Reply with quote

gusto66 wrote:
Thanks Bill! Will cut the flower heads off - but what could be wrong with the root system? Yes its outdoors on a raised bed.


Jumping in here, but as the previous poster said about the root system I remembered a rhubarb stool we had planted once. It was planted near the base of a hedge and every 2nd year or so it would flower early. I quickly worked out there was harsh competition for water and fertilisers there so I moved it. Any plants in competition with your rhubarb gusto66.

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gusto66
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bill, Walltoall & Blackbird for swift responses... yes it's edible, took first stems last year for a crumble. Perhaps this is the problem - last year was its first year and a month ago I put a big pot over it to force it a little... Anyhow, I've done a Marie Antoinette on it. And no, it has no competition other than a few onion seedlings.
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barremic
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hi everyone

I inherited about 10 very mature rhubarb plants when i bought my house a year and a half ago. and my rhubarb sent up a few flowers last year which i pulled out.

went out yesterday evening and pulled off in some cases 3 flower stalks off some of the plants.

I have been trying to split some of them and have given away a few too, to give them a bit more space.

but the plants dont seem to have had any problems, i think it is because they are so large and it has been vary dry lately where i am. and i think both of these things can cause a rhubarb to send up flowers

i used up the last of my frozen rhubarb last week to make a crumble, i cant believe how well it freezes too!

hope this helps
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: well then it is real rhubarb Reply with quote

So far so good gusto66. we want to see the guillotine, though!

Rhubarb is a rhisome which stores its power and energy in the root over the winter. In the first year, you set in motion its future life. Because of the big leaf structure that crown will develop best in rich soil, not waterlogged and with regular access to water from overhead, no problem in Ireland. The energy is produced in the leaves using sunshine. Here in Essex we get massive sunshine and little rain, but I have a busy watering can!

When the leaves begin die off in autumn their food value is stored by the root to give it a start in Spring. (Daffodils use the same methodology and that is why good gardeners let the leaves rot on the stalk.) It is not a good idea to pick rhubarb stalks in the first year and at no stage during the life of the plant is it a good idea to pull all or most of the stalks in any one year.

Forcing rhubarb is a special process. As soon as the first sign of life appears overground in Spring, put a bucket or something like that over a chosen crown to exclude ALL light. It is also a good idea if you have it to cover the bucket with straw or a bit of carpet The crown, which would normally use the sun's energy to produce stalks and leaves, has to extract the energy it needs to develop by extracting it from the roots. The lack of light ensures that no green is produced on the leaves or stalks. The darkness and usually associated warmth causes the stalks to grow rather quickly and to take on a generally pink appearance. The result is "champagne rhubarb" ready to eat maybe eight weeks before conventional rhubarb. It is sweeter due to having more sugar type carbs.

Now you can see why tipping a bucket over a two year crown already weakened in its first year by over-pulling is not really a good idea. If you can, give the crowns a rest this year and they will recover if they get lots of light enough moisture and are in nutritious soil.

I hope this rather long-winded post helps everybody on here to improve their rhubarb. it is among the most nutritious super-vegetables in the garden. It can take dog's abuse, resists frost and always gives a return.

Here's to all rhubarb heads, human and vegetable.

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Liparis
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

barremic wrote:
hi everyone

I inherited about 10 very mature rhubarb plants when i bought my house a year and a half ago. and my rhubarb sent up a few flowers last year which i pulled out.

went out yesterday evening and pulled off in some cases 3 flower stalks off some of the plants.


Two things we do with Rhubarb.
1. You pull the stalks.
2. You cut off the flower stems.

Why?
You cut Rhubarb stalks and production slows down early. There are growth buds tucked away in the crown and when you pull a stalk you stimulate the growth buds into producing more stalks. If you cut them, the sheath stays around the buds and the buds don't get the message to grow as quickly. This may be why Rhubarb leaves are poisonous. Stops animals eating their valuable leaves and leaving the stalk around the buds.
Pull flower stems and you initiate their buds, more flowers, so you cut them to slow down flower stems being stimulated.
Bill.

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barremic
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bill

That makes perfect sense.

Do you think its because its been very dry here recently or is it because they are old and have overcrouded roots?

thanks for the advice
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 12:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It could be the dry spell, there hasn't been a lot of rain recent weeks. As you suggest, crowded crowns could do it, but if they have loads of room I would think the former. Sometimes, of course, plants just seem determined to flower.
Bill.

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barremic
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bill

I split one of them up last night, i know its kinda pushing it, it should have been done weeks ago.

I got 4 large plants out of it, and about 10 smaller ones to give away. They are very crowded, they have probably been in the same place for over 20 years. Some of the roots went down about 3-4 foot!
and gave them a good drink

Still it was a nice evening for digging Wink
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Liparis
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

barremic wrote:

and gave them a good drink


Bushmills? Laughing

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Organicgrowingpains
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, I did not think so much could be said about the humble rhubarb! All educational I might add. We have one on the plot which is going into its third year, This year it finally seems to have taken off and is producing stalks which are nicely red and taste good as I took about 6 off last week. I was not sure when to actually start pulling it so took a chance. I was not aware it ever flowers either. I remember reading that plants less than 3 years old should not be forced and the same plant should not be forced for consecutive years as it will weaken it.
Dont discard the leaves, put them in a large plastic container and cover with water, in a few weeks you will have an evil smelling liquid which you can water the brassicas with. It seems to cunfuse predators especially the cabbage white butterfly which is then not inclined to land and lay her eggs, while also feeding the brassicas. Seen on Tv programme 'The Big Dig'. Smile Smile Smile

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