Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Breaking the rules and trusting the plants

Gardening has rules. It's true. Some of them are 'rules' old gardeners tales passed on. You're supposed to plant bulbs with the top pointing up but try pointing it down sometimes and see what happens (spoiler: it grows) Some rules are worth following though and this post is about how I broke one of those.

Move plants when they are dormant. It's simple. When plants are dormant they have pulled all their energy in on themselves and that's the best time to move them. However sometimes a plant just needs to be moved. And you can't wait for a better time.

Six inches too high. Either it goes or it's roots have nowhere to rest

Out allotment is tiered and we've made the decision to take some of those tiers out. Some are impractically small, some are mostly caved in anyway, so whatever. We decided to get rid of some of those tiers so earth is being shunted around right now.

A rhubarb was sitting precariously on top of a pile of earth that needed moving. We didn't always know this. When we got the allotment it had been cut down so we couldn't see the rhubarb there. Then we put a mulch over that part of the plot. In March when I removed the mulch there was a rhubarb. Surprise.

So I wasn't attached to the rhubarb. I didn't put it in and I really only like eating it one way. As I needed the ground beneath it to be six inches lower I had two choices: move or kill.

New home, please don't ask about the broken glass. 
Not to look a gift plant in the whatever I moved it. At the wrong time of year. But you know plants will generally put up with a bit of rough treatment. Their purpose is to grow after all. I'm also giving it a gentle start with some pampering.

I say pampering, it looks a lot like carnage. After being moved plants can undergo transplant shock, their roots aren't making the same sort of contact and everything is different. They aren't getting the nutrients that they need. The outer leaves are a great big energy suck for them. Leave them in and they'll go flaccid, weakening the plants in an effort to respire.

With A Haircut

So it's worth it to cut everything down to the young growth. It gives the plant less to do so it can concentrate all it's energy on establishing it's roots. There's still no guarantee it will thrive but taking a risk with rhubarb is better than having none at all.


  1. I'm having to do the same with some of the plants in my garden - either they stay behind, or I try and pot them up. If I do, they have a chance and it's up to them to make the best of it ;)

  2. A chance is certainly better than nothing. The worst that could happen is that the plant dies and if you where going to loose it anyway... what's the difference?