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Rhubarb died a death


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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 4:12 pm    Post subject: Rhubarb died a death Reply with quote

I planted three rhubarb plants around april this year and didnt pick any right through the summer. It grew pretty well during the summer but towards the end of August/early september it started to die off. Picture below is from 19th Sep. By the first week of Oct all the leaves have either totally died and fallen off, or are 90% of the way there. Is this normal? Looking around the other plots I notice that a lot of the rhubarb is holding up a lot better.


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mountainy man
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that is fairly typical of rhubarb growing in soil that is low in nutrents , I had same last year and piled a load of mature sh1t around it and this year its huge with 24 ins stalks ! so feed feed and feed and you wont be dissapointed . good luck, Denis
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:29 am    Post subject: developing rhubarb Reply with quote

Sirphysco I'm with mountainy man on the way forward. (Thanks Denis!) His advice is right on the mark. A nice layer of horsesh1t about four inches thick will make a perfect winter 'mulch' done now before the frosts start. Your nice photo shows me a couple of grand 1st year rhubarb stools in poor soil. The 'mulch' only needs putting down once a year before the frosts. No other feeding is needed. Don't even go there!! Wink

Every year a new layer of manure, every year a stronger crop of rhubarb. After maybe 3 years, (2012) dig up one of the two stools before the frosts, split it in half and increase your rhubarb patch that way. Don't pull many sticks the Summer after splitting. You have the other strong plant to feed you. In 2015 split that one. By 2020 you'll have a whole field of rhubarb if you want. Smile

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Rocket
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 11:15 pm    Post subject: Rhubarb! Ypipee! Reply with quote

Just want to say thank you to the questioner and those who answered.

I thought for a moment someone had taken a picture of my rhubarb.

I actually managed to kill it off a good few years ago, before moving house. (It's as good a reason as any for moving - I was mortified! And anyway, it's a better reason that the one I actually moved for).

I've had cow manure maturing in a heap for about 6 months - would that be as good as horse manure or different alttogether? When I planted the rhubarb it was a little sad amd was planted in ground that has not been used in at least 5 years, and was previously choked with couch grass - I was quite pleased that it was actually surviving.

Thanks
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:49 am    Post subject: keeping rhubarb warm over-winter Reply with quote

Good morning Rocket,

As in all things to do with working a garden, it's a good idea to know the reason for doing things and you sensibly ask the question. The mulch blanket over rhubarb is to protect it against severe cold it MAY experience during Winter. Some gardens never get frost or serious cold. Temperature may fall to -1 or even -5 but only for short periods. So the soil (which by and large is an insulator if dry) only gets really cold down maybe 1". Below that the soil temp. stays +4 or maybe more and so does the rhubarb crown.

In the Spring when sunshine levels increase, the plant stirs early, wakes early, gets out of bed early and grows for Ireland. Not only do you get early stalks but they grow bigger. Like today's teenagers. By contrast in the middle of Ireland, temperatures often drop to -10 night after night for weeks and daytime temperatures can struggle to hit +2. Soil temps go down accordingly and the cold penetrates deeper into the soil. I've measured -5 six inches down in January when I was in Doon (1996-9)

If rhubarb is growing in richly nutritious and relatively dry soil you can throw some straw over it or a thick blanket of leaves raked up after the fall or even a piece of old carpet or a sack. Anything that will act as a blanket to keep out whatever cold the Winter sends. It will get enough nutrient from the soil.

But in the case above we need to provide missing nutrients AS WELL as the blanket. (Note Denis Mountainy Man's comment above). Horse manure provides an ideal mix for this purpose. There's usually plenty bedding straw in the mix and the droppings are 'dry' to start with. Cows eject almost a liquid. Have you ever SEEN a cow doing No.2's?

Cow manure is fine as long as it is really dry and well composted. If you can squeeze a ball of it in your hand and leave no stain it's fine. Cow manure is very high in nitrogenous nutrition rather more than rhubarb NEEDS but it can be used if your soil is very poor. Really though for rhubarb you should build up the soil for a couple of years and make a raised bed as well. So that the stools can be sure of good drainage.

Whew! I'm well tired now after that speech. Best of luck with t'rhubarb in 2011.

WallToAll

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Last edited by walltoall on Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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kindredspirit
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:20 pm    Post subject: Re: keeping rhubarb warm over-winter Reply with quote

walltoall wrote:
the plant stirs early, wakes early, gets out of bed early and grows for Ireland. Not only do you get early stalks but they grow bigger. Like today's teenagers.

WallToAll


Oh! Sean, I didn't know that you had to feed manure to teenagers to make them grow bigger. Laughing Laughing Laughing

Seriously though, when we were kids, on our allotment, we always used to pile up manure on top of our rhubarb for the winter. It was pig manure though, as that was the cheapest to get delivered at the time.

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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:27 pm    Post subject: rhubard talk Reply with quote

Hiya K. pigshit is very high in potassium and phosphorous if I can still remember my organic chemistry after 50 years! So it works better in places like orchards. But then it worked for you so I better not press this one. Shaun
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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions! Sorry for the late reply btw.

I have access to well rotted horse manure so I'll do as suggested and cover the plants with a few inches of it. Do I cover the crown also or just the ground around the crown?
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:54 pm    Post subject: keeping the rhubarb warm for the winter Reply with quote

Hiya Sir Psycho waiting til the rhubarb has died off or all the stalks are rotted is fine. If you like put some sheets of newspaper down over the crown and then forks of DRY manure on top. Think of it as a blanket for the plant next Spring and breakfast in bed (with a newspaper to read as well). Twisted Evil
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laurenisme
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

I was wondering if you could also help me with my rhubarb. I planted two crowns last summer, they came up well, i didn't touch them as it was their first year and i was told that you should let the roots grow instead. But the slugs did get at them, even though i put slug repplent down, egg shells and jagged rocks, so i thought they had rotten away. However i took a look at where they were today and there is a shoot coming up of one of them but the other ones seems from the top to be rotten as parts pull off it really easy and there seems to be some kind of mould on it. But either there is a shoot coming out of it or one of the roots are really strong. I didn't dig further into it because i thought i might damage the roots.

So i don't know what to do about it, should i leave it and see if it comes up alright or should i take it out of the ground and take off the rotten bits (even though the crown was only planted last year).

Also what is the most effective way to keep slugs away, i dont really want to kill them though but i might have too.


Thanks for your help, very much apppreciated,

Lauren
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:34 pm    Post subject: rhubarb Reply with quote

lauren,
There's nothing wrong with your rhubarb from what I see from here. Rhubarb dies back of it's own accord in late Autumn and totally vanishes over winter til Spring. The growth you are now seeing is new year's growth and it will grow by the day. Slugs will have no effect on rhubarb, least I've never seen damage by slugs on rhubarb? Forget the slug pellets. You'll only poison the ground wuth that stuff. Do nothing to your rhubarb only let the sun get at it. If you are afraid of frost at night cover the stool with an inverted stone pot or a bucket til morning.
My own rhubarb here in Essex has about three inches of growth. You'll be fine.
walltoall

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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

in bygone days gardeners dug up rhubarb in late Autumn and allowed the frost to penetrate it. It was planted again in Spring as the shoots were sprouting. This encouraged early growth as the soil was warmer down a few inches than at the surface. This system also prevented the rhubarb bolting or going to seed. The older gardeners knew their rhubarb even though they may not have understood the reasons for these happenings. Slugs will eat early emerging rhubarb leaves. Rhubarb is a gross feeder especially of Nitrogen. Forcing rhubarb by covering it with upturned buckets and straw was also a common practice.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)

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laurenisme
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ok, thank you waltoall for getting back to me.

I was a bit worried as parts of the top of the crown were coming off in my fingers, and there was mould on top.

so you say this is natural then, yea?

it might of been a snail, there was slug/snail slime along the bottom of the soil going up to the crown. and the leaves were all eaten.

thats really good to here that thr rhubarb is coming back, i had totally written it off.
i can add rhubarb to my list of fruit i can harvest this year, yay.

thank you so much for your help,

Lauren
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walltoall
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject: rhubarb Reply with quote

Lauren,
You have been graced by an opinion from probably the most knowledgeable person on the Forum so include Michael Brenock in your reading. Michael has probably forgotten more horticulture that I ever knew and has written a book which you should look up!

Yes! Michael. My Granda used to frost a couple of stools every year from one end of his rhubarb bed and replant them at the other end so that the bed slowly crept up the orchard over the years. (1940-1960ish). These old gardeners really knew their stuff, I agree. It was he who showed me how to force a stool with an inverted bucket and he himself used to do it to one or two stools every year. And if I recall rightly these may have been the same ones which would then be frosted the following Winter?

Our own rhubarb bed in the 50s-70s ran to about 12 stools but we neither forced or frosted (had not time!). But we did blanket the whole bed over with at least 6" of wheat straw in October every year and let the rhubarb grow through the straw next season.

Lauren Note Michael has confirmed slugs will attack young rhubarb leaves. I must presume we always had so much rhubarb they did not show?

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sirpsycho
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Must take some pics of my rhubarb now, it's jumping out through the soil now. Looks good and healthy!
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