A friend asked me about transplanting rhubarb. Ours has been in the same spot for 20 years and this year seemed puny — smaller stalks and did not rejuvenate much. I thought this was due to the several frosts the rhubarb experienced but maybe it is time to transplant. What are your suggestions please?

The smaller plant and stalks could well be put down to the weather, but as easy as it is to grow, rhubarb still requires a bit of maintenance. Every six to 10 years, you can rejuvenate your plants by digging and dividing them.

Best done as early in the growing season as possible, this is a simple process. You can dig out the entire root ball; then, using a hatchet, sharp knife or just your hands, split the root into several pieces, each with at least one bud and root piece. If you’d rather not dig up the entire rhubarb clump (they can get big!), you can drive a sharp shovel right through the center of the plant, lifting out only half of it. Replant these pieces as soon as possible, storing them in a serrated plastic bag in cold storage if you have to postpone planting. This should result in stronger plants with larger stalks.

I just harvested my cabbage plants and some were large and some were quite small. Why would that happen?

My red cabbage plants were also varied in size this year. I think it has to do with water.

Cabbage plants produce large leaves at their base. In my patch, these leaves formed an impenetrable soil cover which kept the rainfall from reaching the soil and thus the plant roots. The larger heads of cabbage were on the edge of the plot where the roots could access water if they reached out a bit but the ones in the middle could not. We have had so much rain this year that there was no need to run watering lines, and I think the small heads just grew as big as they could given their lack of moisture.

Next season I intend to remove those large flat leaves to allow rain to hydrate the plant.

Is it time to plant spinach outside so I can overwinter it and have a crop in the spring? I have never done that before and am eager to try.

Overwintering spinach is so incredibly easy that I greatly encourage everyone to give it a try.

We got our first overwintered crop when sowing seeds in October. Left alone, the snows covered them, and in the spring, we had spinach! To plant, you will want to wait until late September or early October. Sow the seeds, water them well and then cover with a hoop and some Agribon. We use Agribon-19, which is a slightly thicker product. Be sure to stretch the cover tightly and weight it down well. In November, as deep cold and snows threaten, add a layer of clear plastic for extra protection and to help shed the snow. Johnny’s Seeds has some recommendations for seeds that overwinter well (https://tinyurl.com/yxlpmmm9).

I like to grow Giant Winter Spinach and Winter Bloomsdale as well as Winter Wonderland Romaine lettuce, all available from Fedco Seeds, fedcoseeds.com/seeds.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a rather intriguing formula about dating your winter plantings a certain number of weeks before the beginning of the Persephone Period, i.e., the last 10-hour day. You can read about it here: https://tinyurl.com/y2a33ach. If you want to experiment with starting seeds for a spring crop but don’t want the hassle of the hoops, try sowing some seed in early October. If we get a lot of snow, you may get a grand harvest.

Beverly Carney can be reached at cultivating country@gmail.com.