Dividing Rhurbarb & Tomato Seed Problems

Question:

.I’d like to revive a ten-year-old Rhubarb plant that has suffered from water restrictions. It’s a large clump, but some sections have died out. Can I divide this plant? Is it worth the effort? 

Answer:

  • Yes, it’s worth the time and effort to divide your Rhubarb plant.
  • Typically, Rhubarb should be divided every four years or when the stalks begin to thin out. So, your plant is overdue.
  • Rhubarb is divided from late October to early November. This is after the last heat spell of the year and before the rainy season begins in earnest.
  • The foliage is cut off at the ground; gently dig up the root clumps and wash off all the dirt. With a sharp knife, remove the dead sections, leaving you with several clumps of various sizes. You’ll probably have more than you need, so I’d keep those the size of a normal hand or larger, and it’s not necessary to transplant them immediately.
  • Rhubarb can be replanted anytime through the end of February so store them in a dry location, in an open cardboard box.
    • The new plants should be spaced in a large container every three feet or several sections.
  •  Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, so amend the soil generously with organic matter and feed them frequently with an all-purpose organic Fertilizer during the growing season.
    • Your first harvest is in the second season after replanting. You wait until the leaves are fully developed.
    • You harvest only the big stalks by pulling the stalks away from the base of the plant, much like you do with celery, and snap it off. It would help if you didn’t cut the stalks as the wounds can cause crown rot.
    • To keep the plants producing well, remove only about one-third of the leaves from a plant at any one time and stop harvesting altogether by mid-summer.
    • You need to remove the seed and flower stalks as soon as they appear. You protect the new plant from water stress by mulching them next year and temporarily covering them with shade cloth when the temperatures are over ninety degrees.
  •  The shade reduces evaporation and helps prevent water stress, whatever the water restrictions are in place.

Question:

 I purchased my tomato seeds online from the Burpee Seed Company. I germinated the seeds and transplanted twelve seedlings into my vegetable garden last spring. The plants have all prospered; however, five plants produced dinky, little cherry-like tomatoes instead of the desired large, slicing type tomato. What happened, and what should I do next year to prevent it from recurring?

Answer:

  • I do not believe anything culturally when wrong with your tomato plants. This is a simple case of human error. Flower and vegetable seeds are packaged by machine. When they change from each variety, the machine should be cleaned out of any remaining seed before resuming packaging. This apparently did not occur with your seed package, so you planted two different varieties.
  • I’d write Burpee’s, explain the problem, and ask for a refund.