Get ahead for early rhubarb

Forcing them now will give you a sweet crop in spring.

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This is a nice, traditional task to be doing now – in gardens of old, huge terracotta rhubarb forcers were used to trick the plant into growing fruity stems earlier, and many people still use them today. You can easily buy forcers new from online garden outlets, or search for a lovely antique one. You can, of course, just use an old bucket or dustbin, too! 

By depriving your rhubarb of light it encourages early growth in search of light, so you can be picking tender stalks of this prolific, tasty fruity veg from around early March. The rhubarb you grow in summer – though wonderful – is always tougher and more tart than delicious early rhubarb, which is slimmer, sweeter and more tender, so well worth doing. You must pick mature plants to use though, as they’ll have enough energy to both grow early stems and then continue on as a robust plant afterwards.

If you enjoy growing forced rhubarb, ensure you always have more than one crown growing, so you can use each plant in alternate years to prevent weakening them.