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Expert gardener shares little-known hack to 'force' plant growth: 'It's also sweeter'

"Love this!"

"Love this!"

Photo Credit: Instagram

Gardening is an amazing way to grow your own food, as well as boost your mental well-being. But it still requires a lot of time and patience. Luckily for us, this rhubarb hack is a great way to harvest sweeter rhubarb faster.

The scoop

In an Instagram Reel posted by Jess Gough (@happy_smallholding), Jess demonstrates the practice of forcing rhubarb. Forcing rhubarb means growing rhubarb in the dark. Due to the lack of light and warmer temperatures, the rhubarb will quickly grow straight up as they look for light.

"Because it grows so fast, forced rhubarb is ready earlier in the season than regular rhubarb. It's also sweeter because the lack of light reduces the presence of oxalic acid (which normally makes rhubarb sour) in the stems," Jess explained in the caption of her video.

Jess shows us that you can use a rhubarb forcer to do this or find a big bucket and turn it upside down over your rhubarb plantings. Once you've done this, check the rhubarb every week. Once the stalks have grown straight up and pink, they are ready to harvest.

How it's helping

This hack is cheap and easy compared to purchasing expensive forced rhubarb in stores. This goes for gardening and growing your own food as a whole. With $70 worth of gardening supplies — a typical initial investment — you can yield up to 300 pounds of fresh produce a year, which can be worth up to $600.

While saving you money, gardening and producing your own food is also incredibly beneficial to mental health. 

"Therapeutic gardens have been used in hospitals for thousands of years … they improve the surroundings for patients, visitors, and staff. Ulrich has emphasized their beneficial effects on stress, especially if the spaces support biodiversity," states a report from the NIH.

The benefits of gardening keep coming. Aside from the cost savings and ability to improve one's mental well-being, gardening and growing your own food also has numerous ecological benefits. 

For starters, so much of our produce today is wrapped or bagged in plastic, an automatic no-no for the environment. 

Secondly, the pollution from the shipping sector accounts for nearly 8% of global pollution. By growing your own produce, you can reduce your waste and reduce pollution associated with the global shipping of produce.

What everyone's saying

One user commented, "Thanks! Definitely going to do this… when the snow melts."

"Love this! Forced ours this year and will leave next to not stress it too much. Glad I saw this as need to check on it x," said another user.

"Can you do this with other vegetables?" asked one user, to which Jess replied that you can with chicory and asparagus.

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