Garden jobs, June Long Weekend 2019

Building a wall, even a low garden wall, is a big job!

We spent three whole days working on a retaining wall for our backyard, and so far have four metres of a planned eighteen metre garden wall to show for the efforts.

When I say “we” of course I mean the Royal We, because it is the Queen’s Birthday after all, and also because my husband has done most of the actual building work. I’ve been in charge of moving plants that were in the way (which were quite a few, actually), cleaning up soil and dirt, and snack and tea delivery. Either way, we were both outside for the full three days of the Long Weekend, which was both awesome (because there is really nowhere else I would rather be), dirty, and tiring.

I posted a photo essay of the wall building earlier in the week.

While he was building the wall, I had the job of removing a lot of garden plants that were in the way. These were mostly lovely healthy rhubarb plants that I had only replanted there a few months ago, a gorgeous purple salvia, a yellow gerbera, a zillion lettuce seedlings, some brassica seedlings (cauliflowers and broccoli), and a pink geranium.

Moving Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a plant that divides easily and is therefore great to share with others, or to divide and create new plants. I personally love it to eat, but some people might find it too tart. Despite it being traditionally cooked and eaten with fruits such as apples or strawberries, it is actually a vegetable.

Rhubarb grows from rhizomes, so can be easily divided once the plant is established. Normally I would have waited until these plants were larger to lift and divide, but this time I had no choice.

To move the rhubarb, lift gently with a garden fork until the plant is released from the soil:

Take a good look at the plant. If the plant can be divided, you should be able to see some clear areas for division, such as with this plant. I can see two or three areas where this plant can be split:

Carefully split the plant into separate pieces. If possible, try to divide into parts with roots attached, like I have done here:

However, it is not always necessary. A rhubarb plant can grow from a piece of a crown (not just a stalk of rhubarb). I have even successfully grown a plant from a crown that was accidentally left on the garden path for six weeks. I found it and chucked it in the ground, and it still grew a beautiful plant. In fact, some of the plants I divided today were from that original crown.

However, where at all possible, I try to plant divisions with roots attached.

Dig a hole and lie the separated rhubarb piece in the hole. Fill the hole with water and let the plant sit in it for a while. I like to add a lid of seaweed extract to the hole at this time:

See the base of the plant above, which has stalks starting to sprout? That is a crown. You can plant that, even in the absence of roots. Note that I removed most of the stalks from the plant. Rhubarb and apple crumble for dessert tonight! Actually, I did it so that the plant will put most of its energy into new growth. The crumble is just a bonus.

Remove the hose, and stand the rhubarb plant upright in the watery hole. Backfill with soil:

Sprinkle around the base with pelletised chicken manure. I use Neutrog’s Rapid Raiser, but you could use Dynamic Lifter, or any other brand. If I had some rock dust, I would sprinkle that around each plant too, but I’m all out.

Finally, water in again. I watered each plant with a can full of seaweed extract and Go-Go Juice, with is another Neutrog product (not a sponsor, I just like their products and they are South Australian). Go-Go Juice is a pro-biotic for plants and helps to promote the growth of good bacteria in the soil.

I also gave a couple of rhubarb plants to my neighbour, along with some beetroot I picked. He in turn gave me some Jerusalem artichokes, and is going to help us build a new chook shed. I love having gardening neighbours.

I moved a whole heap of lettuce seedlings, including planting many into little tubs to give away to colleagues and family. We let a plant go to seed and now have lettuces everywhere (and I mean everywhere!).

I also planted a bunch of flower seeds: Flanders Poppy, Poppy Angels Choir, and Pincushion Flower. Hoping these all come up and produce some flowers for the bees this Spring.

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