This section of the book is from the Guide To Hardy Fruits And Ornamentals book, by Thomas Joseph Dwyer, published in 1903.
This is a grateful vegetable and the first in the spring to remind us of the good things that are to follow, it is one of the easiest vegetables grown. It can be successfully produced in most any corner of the garden, providing the land is rich. It does best, however, in a row in the garden. Six plants are sufficient for a small family, while twelve plants will supply the largest family with an abundance right through the season. Plants once established in the ground will last for ten to fifteen years without resetting. Plant for garden culture in rows four feet apart. Any good ordinary garden soil will produce this vegetable; the richer the soil the better the results. For field culture the plants should be planted four feet apart in the row and five feet apart between the rows. The Rhubarb is grown largely for market purposes. We know many market gardeners who make a specialty of growing this vegetable and it is one of their most profitable crops It is a specially desirable crop to grow in connection with the Asparagus, both making a good combination, as they are marketed at the same season of the year. When grown for market extensively the cost of labor for tillage is trifling, and comparatively small when compared with other perennial vegetables or fruits. While it is a generous productive plant and one that can be relied upon to bring the grower remunerative prices from year to year, rarely indeed is there a season when it will not bring profitable returns.
-- This can nearly all be done with the use of the plow and cultivator. In fact, when these implements are used in a timely season, and is as they should be, by working close to the plants, there should be very little hand work by hoeing or otherwise, necessary. As with the Asparagus, it is beneficial to slightly ridge up the rows in the late fall, to make more perfect and rapid drainage, to promote and increase the early growth of the plants in the spring. An early southern exposure is, of course, the best situation for the Rhubarb. Perhaps in no other crop is earliness of such primary an supreme importance as in the cultivation of this vegetable. Our markets will command surprisingly high prices for the early production -- prices that make it worth our while to endeavor to secure by the best cultural methods.
-- The ordinary stable manure is positively the best for the Rhubarb. It should be applied in the late fall, using two or three large forkfuls directly on top of each plant, and letting it remain there during the winter, to serve the double purpose of protection and food for the plants. When this cannot he had wood ashes or other good fertilizers can be used as a substitute.
* When Planting
-- Set the roots so that the crowns will be three inches below the grade surface of the ground. Strong two year-old roots are the best stock to start with; you can have a good crop of stalks from these the following season. Rhubarb should be planted in the months of March and April, the earlier the better for best results. We do not advise Autumn planting of this vegetable.