Maximize your rhubarb harvest with proper timing and picking technique.
Wait until the second season to begin harvesting rhubarb that was started in the garden as plants. You’ll need to wait an additional year for those started from seed.
Harvest stalks for just 1 to 2 weeks the second season and 8 to 10 weeks during the third or fourth and subsequent years.
The best stalks will be firm and 10 to 15 inches or longer, depending on the variety.
Gently but firmly grab the base of the rhubarb stalk, pull and twist. Do not cut with a knife as it can spread disease and the remaining stalk can serve as an entryway for pests.
Remove the large flat leafy portion from the stalks and add it to the compost pile. This part of the plant is toxic and leaving it attached speeds wilting of the stalks.
A bit more information: Do not harvest and use stems that have been damaged by frost. These will be soft, distorted and may turn black. Wait for fresh new growth to harvest and enjoy. Otherwise, rhubarb is safe to eat anytime during the growing season. Limit the harvest season for the health and longevity of the plant. Some gardeners make one last cutting in fall before the first frost. This single late season harvest will not hurt the plant and allows you to have one last taste of rhubarb before the snow flies.
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