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Rhubarb Forcing Sheds The Wakefield-Triangle Rhubarb Growers
The rhubarb-forcing-sheds of the Wakefield-Triangle rhubarb growers are truly a spectacular sight!
The Wakefield-Triangle consists of an area in West-Yorkshire- England, with Bradford and Leeds making up the other two points of the triangle.
Some refer to the triangle as points between other areas that are considerably smaller.
At any rate, at one time over ninety percent of the worlds forced rhubarb crops thrived at their peak here.
There were almost 200 growers years ago, but the number is considerably less now.
The concept of forced rhubarb was actually discovered quite by accident.
A chimney pot was mistakenly left out covering a rhubarb plant and yet the stems were found to be straining to grow upwards towards any light they could find.
These plants were extremely delicate and a beautiful bright pink in color.
So sweet to the taste too!
It was never imagined that rhubarb could actually be forced to grow in the dark. But, such was the case, and the rhubarb-forcing-sheds were born.
Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Ratnage
I love this picture. It is beautiful and
almost eerie at the same time.
Conditions were so perfect in this area for growing also.
There was plenty of rain, good earth and conditioners for the soil were quite available.
It was extremely cheap to heat the forcing sheds after the crowns were replanted in the dark.
The plants are always kept moist and warm as the shoots begin to form throughout the winter season.
They say it is so quiet in these sheds, and you can actually hear the rhubarb growing, as the shoots reach upwards.
As time went on, the imported exotic fruits began to arrive, and for many of the gardeners it was much too expensive to compete.
There is still though a small number of devoted farmers left in the Wakefield-Triangle who continue with the practice of growing rhubarb in this fashion as did the generations before them.
They deal with the concerns of warmer winter temperatures in Yorkshire.
Rhubarb requires a good cold spell to awaken from the dormant stage as we know.
However, concern is minimal to some and different steps may be taken to ensure good yields in the future. They may consider leaving the crowns in the ground just a bit longer before they are transported to the forcing-sheds.
Other varieties of rhubarb to grow can also be considered, along with making use of plant hormones to strongly stimulate growth.