Food & Entertaining - In Season

Three things to do with your rhubarb bounty

Tired of pie? Stew, chill and boil your bounty into these edible (and inedible) recipes

Keep-the-leaves bug spray

Everyone knows rhubarb leaves aren’t edible, but that doesn’t mean you should toss them away. Despite containing potentially lethal oxalic acid, rhubarb leaves are surprisingly useful. They’re safe to compost (the oxalic acid becomes neutralized during composting) or can be used as the base for a natural bug spray.

To be safe, always wash your hands after touching the leaves or resulting bug spray. If you’re worried, wear gloves and use an old pot dedicated to non-food use. And don’t worry too much. Although rhubarb leaves can be toxic, you’d have to eat several big leaves to do any harm.

Rhubarb leaf insecticide
This simple concoction can kill aphids, caterpillars, whitefly, spider mites and other garden pests. Be sure to use it on flowers and shrubs only, not fruit or vegetables.


  • 500 gm (1 pound) rhubarb leaves
  • Water
  • 1 tbsp liquid dish soap

Place the rhubarb leaves in a large stockpot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled, strain the liquid into a spray bottle dedicated for this use. Add 1 tbsp liquid dish soap, secure cap and shake. Spray on infested flowers or shrubs.

Charmian Christie is an avid gardener and home cook. When she's not digging in the dirt, she's charting her culinary adventures on her blog, Christie's Corner.


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