Growing rhubarb on a shady plot


Closeup of rhubarb stalks on wooden table

Rhubarb ‘Champagne’ is an early selection that’s preferrred for forcing
Picture: Rhubarb ‘Champagne’ (Spring/Autumn Planting) from T&M

Having waited greater than 5 years for an allotment, visitor blogger Richard Mulcahy determined that a shady plot was higher than none in any respect. However selecting what to develop is a bit extra difficult whenever you don’t get unfettered entry to the solar. 

Having determined to plant rhubarb crowns, right here’s what he’s learnt about rising completely different styles of this scrumptious crop within the darkest nook of his allotment.

Particular crops for shady plots

Shady allotment plot with shed in background

The plot in late spring
Picture: Richard Mulcahy

After I initially took on my allotment there have been two ideas in my thoughts:

  1. I actually, really need an allotment.
  2. This plot is kind of shady.

About half of the dimensions of a conventional plot, my patch of earth is nearly completely sq.. Instantly to the south and east is a tall financial institution of timber that means that a good portion of the plot is kind of uninteresting, particularly in late spring. Nevertheless it wasn’t fairly as dangerous as I assumed – the plot is huge open to the west and will get some pretty respectable gentle (and possibly extra importantly warmth). Additionally, as soon as spring turns into summer season, the solar is excessive sufficient within the sky to gentle up a good half of my patch.

Over the past two years I’ve been experimenting with crops that develop in shade, or close to shady situations.

Within the shadiest half I ultimately determined on comfrey and rhubarb. Rhubarb may be very straightforward to develop and appears fairly blissful within the shadows. Amazingly, I’ve observed stalks pushing up as early as New 12 months’s Day!

I develop two styles of rhubarb – primarily as a result of I used to be to see if there was any distinction in style, but in addition to unfold the harvest a little. A rhubarb taster’s collection is a good thought.

Planting my rhubarb crowns

Rhubarb Timperly Early growing in ground

With an Award of Backyard Benefit, ‘Timperley Early’ is likely one of the first varieties to mature
Picture: Rhubarb ‘Timperley Early’ (Spring/Autumn Planting) from T&M

I’ve at all times discovered rhubarb straightforward to get began, and observe these broad, frequent sense tips:

  • Plant the crown in a good combination of compost, feed and soil to present it a good begin.
  • Go away it alone for a minimum of a 12 months, avoiding all temptation to drag a stalk or two within the first season.
  • Feed your crops as soon as a 12 months with manure or compost or no matter you might have. I even throw the large leaves again across the plant typically and allow them to rot down over time.

Different crops that thrive in shade

Compact lupin variety growing in borders

Free-flowering in early summer season, this compact selection copes properly with half shade
Picture: Lupin ‘Gallery’ from T&M

I additionally received my fingers on some bareroot comfrey. I went for non-flowering sterile comfrey ‘Bocking 14’, though one plant undoubtedly flowered this 12 months however I presume it didn’t set seed. The comfrey has completed fantastic within the shadiest nook and can present very good fodder for the compost heap. I put the roots in final 12 months – they took fairly slowly and the slugs didn’t go away them alone. However I’m assured that I’ll have about ten wholesome crops this 12 months and that they’ll change into a helpful addition to an in any other case tough a part of the plot.

One other inexperienced manure that did fantastic within the shade was Phacelia – simply grown by broadcasting the seed into a ready mattress. The ensuing crops are merely reduce and dug in as a soil improver. Additionally they have fairly fairly flowers if allowed to bloom. Mentioning blooms – I additionally put a row of lupins alongside the again fence. Once more, very blissful within the shade!

A number of years on, as I lean on the fence within the winter rain, I’ve realised that one of the crucial necessary issues I’ve learnt is to work with the bottom that you’ve. Discovering crops that like your situations is half the battle and half the enjoyment!

Head over to our plants for shade hub page for extra assist and recommendation planting up gloomy areas of the backyard or allotment. Or if you happen to’ve been impressed to develop your individual crumble filling, go to our devoted rhubarb hub page!


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