Ask the gardening expert



Last fall I asked you how to move my big rhubarb patch. You suggested I wait until November to dig it up. Well, things happened and we didn't do it. Can I move it now?

I hesitate to suggest you move it now only because it may have begun to grow this early. However if it were my plant, I would give it a try. If you have a spot you feel is better suited for it to grow, just go ahead. The worst that could possibly happen is it wouldn't work. You are on the right side of the year to remedy its possible loss. Garden centers will be bringing in new starts soon, so try moving yours, if it looks like it might not catch hold, you've got time to replace it with new starts. Remember not to harvest from the new plants the first year.

Several years ago I purchased a tomato with an ID tag of "Burpee Big Early." I loved it! But I haven't been able to find it since, and nobody seems to know anything about it. If it is no longer available, do you have one that is similar? The "Big Early" was an acidy, meaty, very nice-shaped tomato that was perfect for canning and for fresh eating. It was larger than "Early Girl," and almost as large as "Big Boy." Can you help me find it?

You've narrowed your search somewhat by telling me the label said Burpee. Check with the Burpee company to see if they still are selling seed that they call Big Early. They may still have one in their catalog by that title, or they may have one they feel is an improvement on that variety. It's worth a try. There are so many varieties of tomato seed on the market these days, surely some are very similar to others. Trying to find a plant that is exactly like the one you seek is difficult since you won't be able to tell for many months until the tomatoes are ready for the table. As I read the descriptions on a seed catalog they all sound wonderful; clearly there are some I would like more than others at the end of the season, but I can't tell from the description written in the catalog which has all the qualities I favor. One suggestion I may have for you is to visit the Master Gardeners Annual Plant Sale May 11 and 12 and visit with the master gardeners who select and grow the starter plants; there are some real tomato-growing guru folks within that group. Advice from them would be way more valuable to you than from me. I hope you find what you're looking for.

I have some crocus, muscari, puschkinia, allium and dwarf iris bulbs that didn't get planted and have been in the cold, mostly dark garage over the winter. All but the allium seem to have sprouts. Will I still be able to enjoy flowers from them this year? I am new at gardening and need all the help I can get!

Since the alternative would be to throw them away, you might try planting them. Unfortunately, it is very stressful on bulbs to sit out of the ground longer than necessary. You might still be able to plant them and have them survive, but it is not certain they will bloom for you this year. Bulbs have specific chilling and rooting requirements and if they are not met, their performance suffers. If they survive, they may take another year to recover and bloom as they should. If you plant them and they grow, make sure to allow plenty of time for their foliage to grow and wither down properly before cutting. This rebuilds the bulbs' strength so they stand a better chance of blooming the following year.

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to