You can pot some rhubarb to take with you

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Ger­ald Filip­ski

QUES­TION: We are leav­ing our home, and with it a large patch of rhubarb. We have not yet pur­chased a new home. Is it pos­si­ble to take a small part and care for it in a pot un­til it can be re­planted? If so, what do I have to do?

AN­SWER: You most cer­tainly can grow rhubarb in a con­tainer. Rhubarb can eas­ily be prop­a­gated by di­vi­sion. Just make cer­tain you get a piece of the crown as well as a good por­tion of the roots when you are di­vid­ing the plant. The best time to do the di­vi­sion is in the spring just as the plant be­gins to grow, but the di­vi­sion can be done later in the sea­son as well.

Choose a large con­tainer if the plant will be in the pot for some time. The con­tainer should be more than 25 cen­time­tres in di­am­e­ter to al­low for root growth. Use a ster­il­ized pot­ting soil. When plant­ing the di­vi­sion, the crown should not be more than 2.5 cm be­low the sur­face of the soil. Place the con­tainer in full sun.

QUES­TION: My ma­ture May­day tree has a long black spot like a swelling on one of its up­per branches. My neigh­bour thinks it may be a fun­gus. Can you tell me what it might be and how to treat it?

AN­SWER: The swelling is a dis­ease called black knot. A fun­gus does in­deed cause the prob­lem. If left un­treated, the knots can re­duce the vigour of the tree in time.

The knots sur­vive over win­ter and will grow and ex­pand the fol­low­ing year(s). The dis­ease spreads through fun­gal spores, es­pe­cially on windy and rainy days. The only treat­ment is to prune out the in­fected branch or branches. Dis­in­fect the saw or pruners in bleach af­ter mak­ing the cut.

QUES­TION: I have a three-year-old French lilac that looks healthy, with bushy green leaves, but has had no buds or flow­ers ever since I bought it and planted it in my sunny back­yard. It is now about one to 1.5 me­tres tall. Can you please tell me what I’m sup­posed to do to get some flow­ers out of it? I planted a Poc­a­hon­tas lilac be­side it at the same time, and it has been bloom­ing well ev­ery spring.

AN­SWER: There are a few rea­sons that your lilac is not bloom­ing:

It may be too young. Many va­ri­eties of li­lacs won’t bloom un­til they are at least three years old.

Since too much ni­tro­gen can ac­tu­ally in­hibit bloom, cut back on any fer­til­izer you are giv­ing the plant.

It may not be get­ting enough sun. QUES­TION: We have two huge birch trees in our back­yard that pro­vide con­sid­er­able shade and nest­ing ar­eas for the birds. The top of one tree was dy­ing last year and my hus­band cut the dead parts off. It is spread­ing and more of the tree is dy­ing this year. The other birch tree has started dy­ing from the top as well.

Our neigh­bour cut his tree down be­cause he was told there was noth­ing that could be done. Are we go­ing to lose our trees or is there some­thing we can do to make them healthy be­sides cut­ting off the dead branches un­til there is no tree left?

AN­SWER: The prob­lem may be caused by the bronze birch borer. This in­sect tar­gets old and stressed birch trees. They bore un­der the bark and feed on the tis­sue of the tree that con­ducts sap. The bor­ers start at the top of the tree and work down.

Un­for­tu­nately, once a tree is in­fested, it is im­pos­si­ble to erad­i­cate them. Signs to look for in­clude ridg­ing of the bark. You can ac­tu­ally feel the ridges by run­ning your hand along the trunk and/or branches.

An­other tell­tale sign are D-shaped holes in the bark from which the adult bor­ers emerge. The holes look just like a type­writ­ten D and are of the same size. If there are no signs of the in­sect, then the prob­lem may be a lack of wa­ter. Soak­ing the soil heav­ily in the fall is the key.

— Postmedia News

Take a snip­pet of rhubarb with you to a new home to start grow­ing

the tasty plant all over again.

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