Plant Canadian Red Rhubarb rootstock for plants you can harvest in the first year. One of the most popular of all perennial vegetables, the very thought of rhubarb sparks pleasant memories of sweet summer pies. Canadian Red rhubarb has extra thick, bright crimson stalks that keep their colour when cooked. It is one of the sweetest varieties on the market. While it’s true that rhubarb leaves contain toxins, you would have to somehow eat a whopping 5kg of the bitter, extremely sour leaves to reach a dose lethal to humans. Instead, we focus on the sweet, succulent, crunchy leaf stalks (petioles) that pair so well with apples, strawberries, and other fruit. Rhubarb also makes excellent preserves such as jam, marmalade, and fruit syrups.
Plant rhizome segments in early spring (March on the Coast), and resist harvesting during the first year. Rhubarb plants need time and lots of nutrients to store in their roots in order to produce vigorous stems in the coming seasons. Plant in full sun in well drained soil. Raised beds are well suited. At planting time, dig in a generous amount of fully rotted manure or compost, as well as 1/4 cup of Complete Organic Fertilizer per root. Plant so that the bud end is 5cm (2″) below the surface, and space plants 60-120cm (24-48″) apart. Growers should space rows at least 1m (3′) wide. Feed and water plants regularly, and remove any flower spikes as you see them develop. After 5 years it is normal to lift plants and refresh the soil. Hardy to Zone 3.