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Gardening guides, when discussing rhubarb, will always illustrate their advice with a picture of some fancy forcing jars, or else reclaimed old-fashioned chimney pots, which look great and add decoration to the garden.

rhubarb forcing jars

But man, are those things expensive. Does anyone have any tips for cheaper alternatives? Doesn't matter if it's an eyesore.

Dustbins are sometimes mentioned but they're too large surely.

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  • I'd probably use 5 gallon pails, we have a bunch of these hanging around.
  • (I think you have horses) How about a feed bucket or one of the larger watering buckets for the horses? (Especially if you have such a bucket that's been kicked/dropped/cracked -- since you said an eyesore is ok, a little duct tape will cover up the crack and exclude light.)
  • As far as dustbins go, a smaller office-size recycle bin doesn't seem like it would be too tall and they're inexpensive at your local office-supply store.

None of those are as heavy as the pottery will be, so put a rock on top to keep them from blowing around your garden.

  • You're right, we've got several cracked plastic water buckets, no longer any good for the horses. I'll give them a try in the new year. – Tea Drinker Sep 5 '11 at 20:48
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Why not just purchase some flower pots. Either terra cotta or even plastic. Place a piece of carboard or plastic over the holes and then if you have trouble with them blowing away you could just put a rock or something over them. Dustbins would work fine as from my understanding all you are looking for with forcing is darkness.

Another thought that occurred to me was an oatmeal container (water might be an issue as they are generally made from paper or cardboard), I'm not sure from the picture how tall the forcing pots are, but if you have something that size hanging around why not just use that.

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I agree that dustbins would work well; I have forced rhubarb under buckets, cardboard boxes, and other containers that exclude light. But, in my experience, a cheap, common-size dustbin is best... for excluding light and allowing the maximum space for the rhubarb, as well as costing less than "bespoke" forcing jars.

However you choose to force rhubarb, though, it's important to not forget to check occasionally and deal with the problem of slugs and snails that are hidden beneath the cover.

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