Rhubarb in a Basket

article image
Photo courtesy olhaafanasieva/Fotolia

I have only to descend a few steps to the cellar to pick
sweet, rosy stalks of rhubarb all winter long.

In the fall, after frost has killed the top of my rhubarb
but before I apply a winter mulch, I dig a few clumps for
forcing. I choose strong, well-grown roots and get them up
before the ground freezes. I leave them
outdoors — covered with a few inches of sand so they
won’t dry out — until they are thoroughly chilled.

Rhubarb will not sprout again until it has been through
another “winter” (at least seven weeks of temperatures
below 50°F but above 28°F). When the ground is
thoroughly frozen, I carry the clumps to the cellar and
plant them in bushel baskets or large buckets, packing damp
peat in around the roots. I find the best temperature for
forcing is between 60°F and 70°F. There is no need
for light and only enough water should be added to keep the
roots from drying out.

In about four weeks you’ll notice pale yellow leaves, but
rosy-red stalks. Pick the stalks when the leaves begin to
darken and before the edges go brown. The taste is superb,
comparing in delicacy with the sweetest peach. The clumps
will keep you in rosy goodness all winter, and in the
spring can either be replanted in the garden to recuperate
or be discarded.