I have that gardeners affliction that is often undiagnosed. I like to move plants around. After moving one variety of rhubarb several years ago, I decided again that I wasn’t happy with the location. A friend wanted some starts too – this was the perfect opportunity to divide and conquer, literally.
Rhubarb needs dividing every three or four years, otherwise it starts to run down. I have two varieties, the original greenish pink variety that was always here, and a newer commercial type, finger staining, dark red one. Each has different growth habits, the original puts on a heavy first picking and then continues through the summer with a continuous, although light supply of rhubarb. The dark red puts on one heavy crop uniform crop and then is pretty much done for the summer.
Both are expressing their displeasure at being crowded. The commercial red sends up short stalks when it needs dividing, and the old time green sends up tall, thin stalks.
I try to practice mise en place with my garden projects too. Being organized and having all your materials ready isn’t just for the scratch kitchen. I needed a sharp shovel and some compost for amending the soil where I wanted to lengthen my rhubarb row.
After the soil was loosened, I added compost and mixed the bed well.
The yellow is part of a rhubarb root. As you can see it gets quite woody.
This clump could easily be divided in three, but I only have room for two more plants.
So I will just divide it in half. I know the shovel looks gruesome, but the only delicate parts of the rhubarb are the eyes. Being careful not to disturb the new emerging buds, I just position the shovel in between and slice downwards. Now I have two newly invigorated clumps of rhubarb. I won’t harvest these too hard this year, but by next spring they will be in full swing.