Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dividing Rhubarb

August 2011
My rhubarb has been growing in this spot for 2 seasons. It’s a Victoria cultivar and had 3 seed shoots early in 2011. I cut the seed shoots off as soon as they were big enough to identify as seed pods to encourage vegetative growth. This was a new raised bed and I added a lot of compost during and after planting the store bought root.

March 16, 2012
I decided to split this plant last season but haven’t gotten around to it. And now with a week of warm weather this years shoots are starting to form letting me know hurry or wait till next year. I was surprised by the size and spread of the roots and broke several digging out the mass. I think a digging fork would have helped. I’ll have to keep my eyes open at garage sales or add it to my Christmas list.
Cleaned root ball
After digging the root mass up, I used a garden hose to wash away the dirt to identify good spots to cut.  The theory is that each cutting needs roots and buds. I used my trusty digging spade got four pieces, two big ones and two that fall into the maybe category. 

I planted all four in a newly built raised box filled with soil from the old box and some horse manure I picked up last week. The manure is so-so composted and I’m hoping not too fresh to burn the roots. I wouldn’t suggest using manure on plants that I intend to eat early in the season especially those whose edible parts are in contact with the ground such as root crops or asparagus. After putting all four divisions in their new home, this one is 3ft square (vs. triangular). I watered them well and returned the runaway earthworms I found in the lawn. 
I’m eager to see how I did. I might even sneak a few stalks late this year. Should be lots of pies in 2013!

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