Rhubarb pairs well with many berries in sauces or pies or it stands on its own baked into bread. It reminds me tart strawberries, but that might just be my introduction to rhubarb as a child with my grandmothers strawberry rhubarb pies.
Rhubarb is one of the first things to be ready from our yard, sometimes in mid May. It prefers cool temps, but it will grow until the frost comes in the fall.
We harvest any stalks over 10″ in length. This allows the leaf to store enough energy in the roots to make the inner workings of the plant ‘profitable’. Taken when shorter than 10″, the plant puts more energy into growing that leaf than it gets back from the green solar collectors.
The leaves are poisonous and should be discarded or composted. We do not east the leaves and neither do our critters.
We never harvest all of the stalks. We leaves at least 2 stalks and preferably a third or fourth to allow the plant to store up more energy and keep on trucking.
Rhubarb will last for 20 years or more if properly cultivated. Plant it off to the side, because it will be there for quite a while. You can split an old clump of rhubarb at the crown and plant them as new plants.
We stop harvesting rhubarb in late June to mid July to allow it to store up energy for the winter. This helps to give it a vigorous start in the spring.
You should let a rhubarb plant grow for two years before harvesting. This ensures a good root structure and a strong plant that can weather the worst of times over the next two decades. If you absolutely must taste it (like me), then pick very sparingly.
Rhubarb is technically ripe all spring and summer, but by only picking at 10″ or larger, by always leaving at least two stalks unharvested, and by stopping the harvest as June turns to July, you can enjoy a healthy rhubarb plant with bigger harvests every year for twenty years or more. Then split the crown, and you have multiple rhubarb plants for the next 20 years.