Originally Posted by Happy Chooks
I'm aware that the leaves are toxic, but how do I tell when the rhubarb is ready?
Rhubarb doesn't really get "ripe" You can harvest it anytime spring, summer up to first frost. Color is not a good indicator either, Some varieties are very green and very red, and everything in between.
When I had it I always cut off the "flowers" when they appeared. They take energy from the stalks.
I would start pulling the stalks when I thought they were getting about as large as they would get, just a few at a time. I was told to not cut the stalk, but to gently wiggle them until they came out. This was supposed to prevent the crown from getting rotten.
I would harvest late spring until early summer and then stop and let the plant grow for the summer and fall. They store energy for the winter. If you take everything they can die.
I found that as my yard got shadier, the rhubarb got less vigorous quickly and died after a few years.
The first day I had chickens, they ate every leaf off my 2 large plants, when my back was turned. OMG I thought I was going to have to tell there previous owner that I killed her pets in hours. But they were fine.