How to Compost Rhubarb Leaves

Overview

In cold climates, rhubarb is one of the first fresh vegetables of spring. The tart flavor of rhubarb pairs well with another early spring crop, strawberries, and strawberry-rhubarb pie is a rite of spring in many Midwest towns. Rhubarb is unique in that the stems are safely edible, while the leaves contain oxalic acid and are poisonous if eaten. However, the poisons in rhubarb leaves break down harmlessly during the composting process, and rhubarb leaves may be added to the compost pile in the same way as other kitchen waste. Composting rhubarb leaves will not harm your compost pile or transfer the oxalic acid to other plants.

Step 1

Harvest the rhubarb by pulling up the stalk near the base of the plant. You can also cut the stalks with a knife. Wash the rhubarb and trim the leaves off with a knife. Use the stalks in your favorite recipe.

Step 2

Cut or tear the leaves into smaller pieces to make them easier to handle and to encourage them to decompose more quickly.

Step 3

Place the rhubarb leaves in your kitchen compost pail, if you have one, or take them directly outside to your compost pile.

Step 4

Add rhubarb leaves and other kitchen waste to your compost pile or bin. Cover with an equal amount of brown materials, such as dried grass clippings, straw or fallen leaves.

Step 5

Turn your compost pile about once a week with a garden fork, and water regularly to keep it as moist as a wrung-out sponge.

Step 6

Use the finished compost in your garden when everything has fully decomposed and the compost is black and crumbly.

Things You'll Need

  • Rhubarb
  • Knife
  • Kitchen compost pail
  • Compost pile or bin
  • Brown compost material
  • Garden fork

References

  • Purdue University Consumer Horticulture: Rhubarb Ready to Harvest
  • The Rhubarb Compendium: Growing Rhubarb
Keywords: compost rhubarb, rhubarn poison, oxalic acid

About this Author

Sonya Welter worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn., including "Zenith City News," for which she writes a regular outdoors column. She graduated cum laude in 2002 from Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college.