I treated myself to a very special purchase in the garden centre yesterday – a gorgeous terracotta rhubarb forcing jar.
When I was young I didn’t like rhubarb. I think it was down to a bad experience with a rhubarb and custard flavoured panda pop (does any one else remember those?). One of my early memories of my other half involved rhubarb – our friend had a giant rhubarb plant growing wild in their garden and he just picked out a stem and started munching on it! I would not recommend that to anyone, at least clean it first, what a way to impress your girlfriend! But thankfully my tastes have changed (luckily for my other half this only refers to my taste buds).
As my rhubarb plant is 1 year old I thought I would try forcing it. I first heard about this technique when I borrowed a DVD from my Mum called A Victorian Kitchen Garden (if you want to grow your own traditional fruit and veg you have to watch it!). In order to get lovely long stems of rhubarb earlier in the year, particularly when there is no other fruit around, you force it to grow in darkness. Just make sure you clear the bed around it, place a container over the small leaves in February, make sure no light can get to it, insulate it with some straw round the outside and in about 8 weeks you should have some lovely long stems of rhubarb.
Come back in 8 weeks for a progress report!