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Question

merryj
dividing rhubarb crowns
How and when do you divide rhubarb crowns?
Crops:

Question details

I keep looking for information on this, but I'm totally intimidated by what appears to be a no-brainer, based on the total lack of tutorials on it. When do you do it (time of year, and how do you tell by looking at the plant that it's needed), what do you need to worry about? What's the mechanical process? Does the information apply to other perennial crowns like asparagus?

I just found something on this in the 1977 classic "Crockett's Victory Garden" written and filmed (for PBS) in Boston. He recommended dividing crowns that were at least three years old and did it in October using a knife. I'm guessing that approach and timing would work for asparagus too so that plants have time to reroot a bit in the fall before the cold shuts them down. Crockett left about an inch of stalk above the crown.
Hmm.. OK. So, the rhubarb dies back around August. The asparagus is frost-killed in November. So when it comes time to divide them, in October or early November, I dig up the crowns, slice it in half, and replant or give them away? For the Asparagus, I guess I would cut down the fronds first... Now I just need to figure out how to tell it's time to divide them. I planted both about 3 years ago, but they're kind of in the shade, so growing a bit slower than they would in full sun... Anybody have a good rule of thumb on dividing asparagus? I started mine from seed and planted them quite a bit closer than I would have if they were crowns.
It does depend on where you live. I have little if any frost in winter. My rhubarb grows year round and better in winter than in summer. (In summer, it's all pretty green, the temperature has to be under 27c (80F) for the red colour to come good. Four elements in my rhubarb growing: [1] feed heavily, water well, drained location (mound of compost) [2] in hot weather, they will try to flower. Remove the flower stalks, pull them right out [3] pick modestly from each plant, pulling gently sideways to snap the stalk at the bottom. You don't want the photosynthesis capacity of the plant to be knocked to hard by picking a lot from one plant. Much better growth if you pick a few from a number of plants. Leave the younger ones, also remove any damaged ones. [4] when dividing, lift the whole plant and pull it apart, you will find that there are natural lines of cleavage within the whole root mass and with gentle snapping (if the plant is crisp and not water stressed) you will break off optimal new plantings. Much as with artichokes. ... As to when, well It matters less for me than say Canadians or Poles. But you want the new little plant to go into a nice bed in Goldilocks circumstances, when the weather is not stressful and the plant can grow happily and at a gentle pace. Winter is a good time for me. I've just started a blog of my garden here: http://suburbanfoodforest.blogspot.com.au/

 

 

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