Down on the Allotment

What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Spindly Rhubarb

I think I have some sort of problem with one of my rhubarb crowns. My whole rhubarb patch is only 3 years old, planted from divided crowns and has done really well for me. The problem with this section however is that the rhubarb stalks are coming up just the thickness of a pencil. All the other crowns in the same patch, with the same treatment, are nice fat buds just waiting on the surface of the soil.
I'm sure I read about some sort of rhubarb virus or disease which causes spindly stalks like this. From memory I don't think there is any cure other than to dig it up and start afresh. On searching the internet most informations seems to indicate that rhubarb is fairly problem free apart from crown rot (which this is not). Does this seem familiar to anyone?

17 Comments:

At 9:37 PM, Blogger Kris said...

Perhaps this particular crown has been planted too deeply. All my rhubarb crowns actually break surface and even my 2nd year stalks are quite substantial. In fall I cover the cleaned crowns with a bushel of rough compost and every spring they thrive. Good luck.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Theanne... said...

I enjoy rhubarb pie...but have no real experience with growing rhubarb, hope someone can help you!p

 
At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

I had a plant that was doing the same sort of thing year after year, no matter how I treated it. Eventually I gave up and scavenged a new plant, which has come up trumps!

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Mal's Allotment said...

So it's spindly and it's earlier. It is like it is forcing itself.

My rhubarb comes in a wide range of thicknesses. It's never bothered me - until now.

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger Phoebe said...

I had the same problem Matron, with thin stems early in the season on a brand new 2nd year bare rooted crown I had planted in winter and after a while it righted itself and produced normal stems... But if yours has been in the ground a couple of years after producing normal stems and now not, I dont know!

 
At 10:10 AM, Blogger Vegetable Heaven said...

The rhubarb crown I found on my new allotment - taken over a year and a half ago - looked seriously spindly. I decided to force it last spring and then dig it up. It came up pink and gorgeous - and quite fat so I left it there! It had a dollop of good compost over the autumn but as you have not treated yours differently from the rest I can't suggest what the problem might be. Maybe better start again?

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Jo said...

It might just be something else which the very cold winter is responsible for. I'd be inclined to see if it behaves the same next year.

 
At 11:18 AM, Blogger Green Lane Allotments said...

I thought one of the only real problem diseases to attack rhubarb was crown rot. Is it in a shady position and be sort of half forcing itself?

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Doc said...

Hmmmm, the only time I had this occur was a clump that was planted deeper than the rest, I always meant to dig it and replant it but it grew out of it eventually.

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger Matron said...

A little bird has pointed me to the RHS website about rhubarb. It seems likely that when a crown is overcrowded and ready to be divided that it does indeed grow spindly like this as a sign that the crown needs to be divided. I can only think that when I planted this rhubarb patch, I planted single crowns nicely spaced out, and this one may have been a bigger lump containing several crowns. I also take on board several of the comments about planting too deep. I might dig up this patch, divide the clump into single crowns and plant it separately, with oodles and oodles of well rotted manure compost! That should do the trick?

 
At 11:22 PM, Blogger Year Round Vegetable Gardener said...

A few rhubarby thoughts - it could be a bit too deep or in a bit too much shade (possible?) or it might need a boost of organic matter.. we dollop great shovelfuls of compost and/or organic manure on our rhubarb patch twice a year and it seems to revel in the richness.. If you do get enough sun and it's not too deep, try more organic matter!! Great blog, though!
Niki

 
At 2:34 AM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

Your plan sounds perfect Matron! I hope it resolves itself with those changes.

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger Lrong said...

Bought some rhubarb seeds to try this coming season... really don't know if it will even grow here in Japan...

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Robert said...

My rhubarb clumps are massive, and they produce great thick stems. I doubt whether it's overcrowded if it's only been in three years. I had a couple of clumps which never flourished, and eventually went on the compost, but I'd give it a year or two yet. A good dose of organic matter wouldn't go amiss!

 
At 1:03 PM, Blogger Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Just to say I enjoy rhubarb pie and custard very much:))

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Matron if a rhubarb patch is picked to death and nothing left to die back into the plant the patch after a couple of years will only produce thin sticks Feed during winter and leave a few sticks on each crown this to die back into the plant this year and I guarantee you will have a bumper crop next year

 
At 11:06 PM, Blogger Cattrix said...

We got a rhubarb crown from a neighbor a few years ago and set it in, the first year it was spindly and very sad looking this year I was hoping for better luck thinking it was just unhappy being transplanted but it's coming up spindly again. I'l have to research when to divide it.
I wish I knew more about rhubarb because I sure like it. And I would love to be able to harvest some and make pie and rhubarb apple crumbles. :(

 

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