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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Rhubarb leaves as weed barrier and mulch

The large size of rhubarb leaves makes them easy to place between garden rows or around the base of plants as a weed barrier and mulch.

That's what I discovered when I looked at rhubarb with new eyes after a destructive storm forced my harvest of more stalks than I would typically use at once. What to do with it all? And could the leaves be useful somewhere, other than just in the compost bin? We had a fierce windstorm in my neighborhood this week that brought trees crashing down through roofs and sent debris all over tarnation. My home was spared (this time!) but the wind shredded many plants and outright obliterated the wood chips around our garden boxes. That layer of mulch is gone!

I always love when one garden issue -- in this case, the oversupply of rhubarb -- becomes the solution to other garden problems: replacing mulch and blocking weeds. I overlapped the leaves on the ground between garden boxes. I also put them around the base of strawberry and raspberry plants. The quails are back in my yard with their telltale pits in the soil. Rhubarb leaves are now the rugs those birds can't dig under. 

Increase the effectiveness as a weed barrier by layering the rhubarb leaves and adding new ones as you harvest more stalks. The leaves break down quickly. On the left is a a freshly cut leaf. The one on the right was cut two days before.

When I harvest a rhubarb stalk I hold it in one hand and swing a knife at the leaf base with the other hand like I'm wielding a sword. (Can't imagine where I got that idea!) Easier and way more fun than using a cutting board. 


Mike said...

Great idea Jennifer! I don't think I would have ever thought of this.

Western said...

What a smart idea to use rhubarb as a weed barrier! That's definitely making the most of your resources.