Rhubarb is a perennial crop that comes back year after year; but after a time the crowns become tired and crowded out by weeds and yield consequently suffers. Some of our rhubarb has been in the ground for five years now and it is time to move on to pastures new.
Last week we started going through our field, digging up some of the older plants and splitting each one into individual crowns ready for replanting. Each plant can produce as many as six or seven crowns (although three or four is more usual) which can then be put back in the ground to grow on in their own right. These transplants won’t be harvested this year as we want them to build up energy and bulk in their root system for the years ahead. Don’t worry though – we still have plenty in the field to last through this year! It will hopefully be available to order in April.
Rhubarb is usually the first major planting job of the year for us: we planted some broad beans in mid-January and some salad in the tunnels in early February (which has now germinated), but it is not until March that we really get going. After working on the rhubarb we shall have a couple of weeks grace before getting our teeth into spinach and swiss chard followed by lettuce, summer brassicas… and suddenly the relative calm of winter is over.