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What Vegetable Can You Hear Growing? – GIY Plants

What Vegetable Can You Hear Growing

This may seem like a strange question. However, there is one vegetable, grown under specific conditions that makes quite a bit of noise as it grows. So what vegetable can you hear growing?

Rhubarb grown outside in the garden won’t speak to you, but when it’s grown in the dark it gets quite vocal. When rhubarb is grown without sunlight, it is called ‘forced’ rhubarb or hothouse rhubarb. It grows rapidly which causes it to make noises.

There’s a small triangular-shaped area or 9 square miles in England that is known for growing ‘forced’ rhubarb[2]. This area is known as the Rhubarb Triangle. Let’s discuss what makes ‘forced’ rhubarb special and how it makes noise.

‘Forced’ Rhubarb: Better Taste And Texture

‘Forced’ rhubarb is grown by candlelight in special sheds that produce heat and block sunlight. The plants grow using the heat and their own energy stores from their roots.

The lack of sunlight allows them to store more sugars in their stems. This produces a sweeter-tasting stalk when it’s harvested[1]. The texture is also more tender when compared to rhubarb grown outdoors.

You Can Hear Hothouse Rhubarb Growing

‘Forced’ rhubarb grows extremely fast as the stalks reach upward quickly in search of sunlight. The speed of their growth, up to 1 inch per day, causes them to produce noise.

The stalks produce creaking and squeaking noises as they rapidly stretch upwards. As the buds pop open and leaves unfurl, they produce popping and crackling sounds. If you listen to the recording of them growing below, it almost sounds like logs burning in a fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is Rhubarb Grown In The Dark?

Rhubarb grown in the dark is sweeter and more tender than Rhubarb grown in sunlight. Sunlight causes the plant to photosynthesize. This generates chemical energy for growth from light energy. In the absence of light, it will use its own energy stores to grow. It grows quickly upward in the dark as it searches for a light source.

How Quickly Does Rhubarb Grow?

Rhubarb grows very quickly once it is established, up to several inches per week. Most gardeners suggest letting rhubarb grow for two years before you start harvesting it. This allows them to become established as perennials you can grow without replanting for years. You can grow rhubarb as an annual, but small unestablished plants won’t produce as many leaves.

Where Is The Rhubarb Triangle?

The rhubarb triangle is an area located in West Yorkshire, England. It’s a 9-square-mile area between the towns of Wakefield, Morley, and Rothwell[2]. This area is known for producing large quantities of early forced rhubarb. Forced rhubarb is grown in the dark, in special sheds, giving it a superior flavor and texture.


[1] MacEacheran, M. (2019). Forced rhubarb – a vegetable deprived of sunlight for extra sweetness – has been eaten in Yorkshire since the 19th Century. Now the culinary treasure is having a renaissance. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

[2] Pittam, R. (2006). Secrets of the Rhubarb Triangle. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

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