Getting Ready to Force Rhubarb

My new Rhubarb forcer! Father Christmas ‘did’ know where to buy one. Hooray! I’ll be putting it to work very soon. Once my Rhubarb is showing a few more signs of life I will be placing the forcer on top to block out the light and encourage the shoots to grow tall and tender.

I’ve never grown forced Rhubarb before so I’m looking forward to the reputedly sweet and delicate shoots that forcing produces. Its recommended to only try forcing with at least a three-year-old crown (which mine is) so hopefully the results will be good.

I’ve consulted Percy Thrower on the matter. He suggested that while you might need the extra warm that a thick layer of straw would provide with something like Seakale, you don’t need to bother with Rhubarb as it will grow on its own accord at this time of year anyway. So I’ll be sticking to just the forcing pot for now.

Anyone else forced any Rhubarb? Any tips?

19 Responses to “Getting Ready to Force Rhubarb”

  1. Janiceon 28 Dec 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Hi! Thanks for your great green tomato chutney recipe. I had loads of green tomatoes that refused to ripen for ages so I googled, & your website came up! I made what I thought were loads of jars but having given a few away, too many people came back for seconds, it was so yummy! So thank you! I’ve also just started up a blog so you can see it on the above link. Its very much in its infancy so I’ll be adding to it, particularly as I convert my front garden into the ‘growing zone’!

  2. Debbieon 29 Dec 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I tried some for the first time last year and didn’t do enough as it was yummy so thanks for the timely reminder to have another go this year. Nice forcer. Wish I had a Father Christmas like yours! I have to use very large terracotta pots or a dustbin.

  3. queenieon 29 Dec 2009 at 1:24 pm

    “forcing rhubarb?!” Wow – no. No tips. You’re out in another galaxy on your own on that one! [grin] At least from the galaxy I inhabit. . . .

  4. David LaFerneyon 29 Dec 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Despite being far to the south of the UK we have many weeks of winter left – usually with temps down to 15 C or so. My rhubarb is completely dormant right now – is yours already emerging?

  5. Mangochildon 30 Dec 2009 at 10:48 am

    I’ve never even *heard* of forcing rhubarb! But I do love the flavor. How do they emerge with such cold?

  6. Ineson 30 Dec 2009 at 11:06 am

    My rhubarb is inside my tunnel and is showing activity already. I will attempt to force it, too. I think I’ll just plunge a darkish big container over it. It isn’t 3 years old, but I’m not the patient type…

    I’m also thinking of starting a little potato section in a corner of the tunnel, now… Oh, so much to do. If it wasn’t so cold and wet outside! I have to bundle up good just getting to the tunnel :-P

  7. Alvton 30 Dec 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Father christmas brought me some Rhubarb forcers last year and I was just as pleased. I’m not sure I put mine on early enough as I didn’t get it much before the end of march but it was lovely and sweet (I still dipped it in sugar and ate it raw though which is the best way to eat it!).
    In our village they grow quite a lot and use old 45 gallon oil drums to block out the light!

  8. suzeon 30 Dec 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve had plenty of success by simply doing as you propose. It’s worth checking the inside of the forcer now and again for slugs and snails enjoying the warm, dark conditions. The pink sticks are the most gorgeous shade when through.

  9. Debbieon 31 Dec 2009 at 11:34 am

    Queenie, all you do is pop something over the top of the plant to keep it in darkness. Make sure it’s tall enough to let the stalks grow up inside. A month or so later (can’t quite remember how long it took) you peek underneath and ‘shazaam’ you have lovely pink, tender, young rhubarb just begging to be made into a crumble. ‘Forcing’ from the fact that you force the rhubarb to seek the light. I’m now wondering if you can force anything else? Anyone know the answer?

  10. 01 Jan 2010 at 10:58 pm

    The trouble with forcing Rhubarb is that all the energy used in producing the blanched stems is being taken from the roots without them being able to replenish their energy as there are no leaves to photosynthesize.
    You can do it,but don’t do it every year otherwise your plant will just give up the ghost.

  11. Mal's allotmenton 04 Jan 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Last year I did this with a metal pot that was rather too small. It was fine until the rhubarb ran out of space. I don’t force to keep the stems pink, preferring the stronger flavour of the red stalks. I do it to get an earlier crop. There are photos of the unforced crowns alongside the forced on my blog archive for last spring.

    Considering we have had sub zero temperatures and lying snow since 17th December in Edinburgh I would be very surprised if my rhubarb was anything but dormant!

  12. Dawn/LittleGreenFingerson 05 Jan 2010 at 11:03 am

    Sadly, I only really want to force rhubarb because I like the look of terracotta rhubard forcers. My shallowness has reached new depths…

  13. Mal's allotmenton 06 Jan 2010 at 12:53 pm

    For a comparison of forced vs non forced have a look at this from last March:

  14. Sarahon 06 Jan 2010 at 4:47 pm

    We do this every year – it’s great. When you get some pathetically skinny, pale pink stems, just snap them off and dip them straight into sugar for a sweet, crunchy treat. Like a natural sherbert dib dab. Delicious! (vanilla sugar works even better) :)

  15. Forced Rhubarb » The Door Gardenon 07 Jan 2010 at 5:20 pm

    […] will.  Apparently forcing rhubarb is a widespread practice in England – I ran across it on a UK gardening blog that I subscribe to.  I’m afraid that the English are much more sophisticated gardeners than […]

  16. Sun Yion 09 Jan 2010 at 2:14 pm

    I have never really thought about planting and maintaining my little garden, but I should consider it.I love your blog and have subscribed to your RSS.

    Thanks for sharing

  17. Johnon 29 Jan 2010 at 9:22 am

    I recently saw the rhubarb enforcer 3 years ago at a trades show. It was in a remodelled modern format but worked exactly the same as the old fashioned version. I have had one for many years and find in the North East we cant get rhubarb to grow well without one of these. Great post.

  18. Welsh Allotmenteeron 02 Feb 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Just a word of caution with your lovely rhubarb forcer. I treated myself to a ‘frost proof’ forcer last Autumn and the recent frosty and snowy weather has destroyed it …. it is full of cracks and spalls and is only any good for crocks now; so maybe a wrap of bubblewrap in the coldest weather, and perhaps sit it on a couple of battens to keep it out of contact with the frozen ground.

    Hope this helps, good luck.

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