Suntrap Garden

Excesses of Christmas

Are you fed up already with the excesses of Christmas, too much turkey, too many mince pies and too much mulled wine? You probably need a bit of exercise outside in the garden. A great idea at this time of year is to lift a clump of Rhubarb for forcing to give you the earliest and sweetest crop around:


• Choose a large rhubarb plant already growing in your garden, one that is a minimum of three years old is best.
• Dig up the plant keeping as much soil on the roots as possible. (This is not a job for the faint hearted – but you will deserve a small tipple afterwards.)
• Leave the clump outside on the ground to go through at least three or four hard frosts.
• Pot into a large tub, wooden box or even a bag ……. I use a woven blue plastic one from a certain Swedish furniture store! You can use old compost, soil or even sawdust to pot the roots into.
• The plant then needs to go indoors to a temperature of 50 – 60OF in complete darkness, a large cupboard or cellar is ideal.
• Keep the roots moist but not wet and around 10 to 12 weeks later you will be able to harvest your first Rhubarb stalks when they are around a foot to 18” high. The stalks will be bright pink and really sweet with small unformed leaves. Use all the stalks that are produced over around a four week period.
• When the harvest period is finished set the plants back outside. They can be replanted in the spring when they will give a small crop; they will recover back to full cropping outside within a year or two.

If you can’t be bothered with all the fuss described above remember it is easy to force Rhubarb ‘in situ’ later:


• Cover the clumps with upside down buckets, pails or proper custom made clay forcers in March.
• Check during April and May and harvest the young shoots as they appear.
• Give different clumps a ‘rest year’ in between ‘forcing years’.
• Enjoy!!!!

Merry Christmas and happy forcing.