A rhubarb plant is a confusing plant for many people. Here are some common questions:
Q: What does it look like?
A: Rhubarb looks like a beautiful cross between kale and celery.
Q: Is it a fruit or vegetable?
A: Rhubarb is a vegetable, though it is often paired with fruits.
Q: What does it taste like on its own?
A: Rhubarb has a bitter taste, and is usually eaten by boiling it down with sugar or is served with strawberries to counter that.
It grows very well in our Pacific Northwest climate, and is a welcome addition to many gardens in our area. If you’re interested in growing it in YOUR yard, then this guide is for you.
Choosing a Site for Growing Rhubarb
A deep, rich, well drained sandy loam is ideal for rhubarb production. A slight to medium acid soil is best. Due to rhubarb’s high water requirement, the soil needs to have plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture for growing plants.
Rhubarb crowns need to be very shallow. At least ¼ to 1/3 of the crown surface should be above ground level. If the bud itself is below ground it may rot. Fertilizer should be applied in the mid to late spring. Fertilizers used should be well balanced, slow release fertilizers and/or compost or aged manure.
Wait until the second year after planting to harvest your first stalks. Pull the stalks by grasping the stalk down near the crown. A slight twist and side pull loosens the stalk without breaking or injuring the primary bud. It’s important to avoid bud damage as each bud will produce several stalks.
It may seem odd to talk about intentionally growing this often aggressive and painful plant. But maybe you are someone who believes that the fruit is worth the pain. There are also varieties of blackberry which grow great fruit and are thorn-free. Either way, growing your own blackberries assures that you’ll have an easy source of this fruit close to home. Just be sure you’re prepared for the work that comes with cultivating these vines!
Choosing a Site for Growing Blackberries
Blackberries produce best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Blackberries can grow in just about any type of soil as long as it is well-drained. If the soil drains slowly or is too wet, adding organic matter will help reduce the chance of root rot. Blackberries would prefer to have the pH between 5.5 and 7.5. If your pH is below 5.5, add lime.
Dig a shallow hole large enough to accommodate the roots of starts. Prune off any damaged root parts. Spread the root mass and set the plant in the ground at the same soil level as it was in the nursery pot. Cover the roots and press the soil down firmly to remove air pockets. If you have soil low in fertility, add a well balanced all purpose fertilizer to the hole. Space plants 4-10 feet apart in a row. It is wise to trellis all blackberries. A simple trellis system 6’ tall of wire supports strung between posts is preferred.
How to Care for Blackberries
Each spring, add a well balanced fertilizer to the soil. Control weeds between the plants but cultivate no deeper than 1-2 inches to prevent root damage. You may apply mulch once plants become established. Sawdust (not cedar), compost, or bark mulch can be applied in a three inch layer over the row.
Pruning should be done in winter or early spring. Blackberries bear fruit on canes that grew the previous season. The canes that produced fruit last year should be pruned away. The new canes can be tied to on a trellis or a fence. This will allow better air circulation and higher quality berries.
When to Harvest Blackberries
Berries should be harvested every 3 to 6 days depending on weather and cultivation. When ripe, berries come right off the vine. To extend shelf life, pick berries when they are dry and refrigerate as soon as possible.
Horseradish may seem like an odd plant to grow, but this unique root is delectable when turned into purees, sauces, or served with a savory steak. The horseradish plant has a distinguishable large green leaf that will add a lot of color to your garden.
Choosing a Site for Growing Horseradish:
Horseradish would love to have full sun. Partial shade works, but the rate of growth will decrease. Horseradish will grow in a deep container, like a barrel, very easily. The soil needed to grow horseradish needs to be well drained and have a pH of 5.5 to 7. To achieve this pH range, add some acidic planting mix to the native soil when planting.
If you bought the plant in the “bare root” form, you should plant it as soon as you are able to work the ground. If you are unable to do this, keep the root in the fridge in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. Dig a hole 1 foot across and as deep as your shovel. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole. Place roots on a 45 degree angle, around 6 inches deep for the small end, keeping the top of the root just below the surface. Refill the hole with compost and mound up a couple of inches because the dirt will settle with time and watering.
If you bought a horseradish plant, dig a hole twice as wide and deep as the roots of the plant. Add some soil back in the hole. The hole should be the same depth as the roots. Place the plant in the hole and pile the remaining soil around the plant. The base of the leaves should be at ground level. Water the plant well. It is normal for horseradish to wilt for a few days after the initial planting. You should see new leaves appear very soon.
Caring for the Horseradish Plant
There are no specific watering issues associated with horseradish. Keep the soil evenly moist, just the same as any other plant. If you added compost to your soil when you initially planted, it should give enough nutrients for the plant during the first year. After that, a slow released well balanced fertilizer will work. This should be applied in the early spring.
When to Harvest Horseradish
For the best flavor do not harvest until the leaves have seen frost. One year old plants have the best flavor, so it is common to replant new plants every season.
A deep, rich, well drained, sandy loam is ideal for strawberry production. A slight to medium acid soil is best. Due to strawberries’ high water requirements, the soil needs to have plenty of organic matter to help hold moisture for growing plants. It is wise to amend the soil with compost prior to planting.
It is important to plant as early as possible in the spring. Snow or light frosts will not hurt the plants. Plants should be planted in rows 12-18 inches wide. Plants should be planted 12-18 inches apart. Set plants with roots straight down. Care should be taken so that the plants are set with the crowns level with the top of the ground. This is very important to the strawberry’s survival and overall health. Throughout the season, avoid covering either old or new crowns with soil while hoeing, weeding, or cultivating. Be sure to water the plants well after planting.
Maintaining Strawberry Plant Health
To keep your plants healthy and productive over the years, follow these few steps:
As soon as harvest is complete, mow off the leaves using your lawn mower set at the highest setting
Rototill to narrow row width to 12-18 inches. Remove excess plants to leave 3-5 inches around each plant
Fertilize with a well balanced, slow release, all purpose fertilizer (4-4-4)
Maintain adequate moisture throughout the growing season.
Mulch in November when plants start to go dormant. This will help with fluctuating temperatures.
Berries will be bright red, slightly firm, and juicy when ripe. The berries will also have a natural shine. Strawberries should be picked at their prime – they do not ripen after picking.
Drake’s 7 Dees specializes in creating beautiful, enriching outdoor spaces throughout the Pacific Northwest. Raspberries provide a beautiful, edible addition for our client’s garden space. If you are interested in growing delicious raspberries in your home or garden area, we encourage you to reach out to us!
In today’s post, you will find some great information to help you successfully grow raspberries here in the Pacific Northwest.
Choosing a Site for Growing Raspberries
Raspberries produce best in full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Raspberries grow best on a raised bed 8-10 inches high and 18-36 inches wide. We suggest working Gypsum into the raised beds. This will help prevent root rot. The pH should be between 5.5 and 7.5. If your pH is below 5.5, add lime.
Dig a shallow hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Prune off any damaged root parts. Spread the root mass and set the plant in the ground. Raspberries should be planted one inch deeper than the plant grew in the nursery. Cover the roots and press firmly on the soil to remove air pockets. Fertilizing should be done 4-6 weeks later. Space plants 2-3 feet apart in a row. It is wise to trellis all raspberries. A simple trellis system 6 feet tall of wire supports strung between posts is preferred. Our Portland garden center can get you set up with everything you need for growing raspberries no matter the space!
Pruning should be done in the early spring. Look for canes with no buds or new growth. These canes were the ones that produced fruit last year and should be pruned away. This will allow better air circulation and higher quality berries.
Raspberries should be harvested every 3 to 6 days depending on weather and cultivation. When ripe, the berries come right off the vine. To extend the shelf life, pick berries when they are dry, and refrigerate as soon as possible.
Grapes are an elegant and beautiful addition to any space. Here are a few tips to get you started growing your own!
Preparing a Site to Plant Grapes
Grape vines require 2-3 years to produce a first harvest crop. They generally don’t reach full production until the fifth or sixth year. The first step to acquire the perfect bunch of grapes is to choose a location that gets full sun. If possible choose a sloping site to help avoid spring frost damage. Even though grapes can grow in any type of soil, well drained soil is essential. Young grape vines cannot compete with weeds or established lawn grass for water and nutrients. It is important to select a site that is free of any competition. Compost should be tilled into the entire planting bed, not just the hole before planting begins.
Grapes are generally planted in rows and trained on a trellis. The spacing between the rows should be about nine feet. The individual plants should be planted seven to eight feet apart in the rows.
Grapes should be planted in the early spring if possible. Before planting, prune the grape cane back to only two buds. Set the plant in a hole large enough to spread the roots out without bending them. The depth should be the same depth as they were planting in the nursery pot you bought the grapes in.
Though they do not need it, adding a slow release fertilizer to the soil each spring would assist in the growth and health of the plant.
The most important part of growing grapes is the harvesting of the fruit. This can be tricky because unlike other fruits, grape color is not a good indication of maturity. In table and wine grapes, ripeness is determined by seed color. The grape is mature when the grape seed turns from a green color to brown. Maturities of seedless table grapes are simply determined by taste.