Divide and Plonker

Earlier in the week, I confessed to pruning by the seat of my pants. After 4 years of growing my own, I finally plucked up the courage to take on some pruning. I wasn’t really sure how to go about it, so I kind of winged it.

I seem to be making a habit of this. At the weekend, I cocked up the division of a massive lump of rhubarb, after taking the same risky, blithe approach.

Biggest Root Structure I’ve Ever Seen
My mate Ben needed shot of a large rhubarb plant, so I popped over to fill my boots. Ben didn’t know how long it had been in the garden, and the rhubarb was well established. It took the two of us and plenty of graft to get the plant up, and I’ve never seen such a root structure. The roots were huge, like some kind of prehistoric tree stump.

The structure was almost scary like you’d see in a film. I could picture it getting bigger and bigger before swallowing everyone within reach. In short, a good division was required before replanting.

I dragged the root into my garden and naively set about it without watching any videos or reading any books. All you have to do is divide, how hard can that be?

Well, if you don’t actually do any research, fairly hard.

You’re Only Supposed to Blow the Bloody Dead Bits Off
I’m now told you’re meant to keep lots of the root, only discarding bits that look rotten or infected. Unfortunately, I chopped the whole lot away, right up to the little crowns. There were new, little roots underneath the crowns, and at this point, I was very happy with my work. ‘This has to be right,’ I thought, ‘look at those nice baby roots’.

I’d broken the plant into half a dozen crowns, and put each one in a small hole with some manure. I then covered up the crowns up so the tops were just poking above the soil and smiled at a job well done.

Four hours later, after doing some post-planting research, I wasn’t so happy. I’ve heard rhubarb has a tough, resilient character, which is a good job after this divide and plonker.

Going With Instinct Isn’t All That Bad
However, a couple of days later, and I’m feeling better. The crowns still look okay, and one thing that this and my pruning adventure has taught me is that sometimes it is refreshing to go with instinct. Success is not necessarily important, but the learning curve is.

With hindsight, I’m going to wager that my rhubarb will be fine. There are a few small roots and although they might take some time to establish, I reckon I’ll be picking rhubarb next spring.

Books, YouTube, and mags are great, but sometimes it’s a nice feeling to have worked it out yourself.

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