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We're Moving: Can We Take Our Garden With Us?!
Q. Dear Mike:Love love love the show! I learn so much each time I listen! Now:
We are moving at the end of August. But the grape tomatoes arelooking REALLY good, the eggplant is flowering, and I'm missing myveggie garden already. Can I dig the plants up and transplantthem to our new house? There is also a small pussy willow bushwith sentimental value; the original I rooted it from was at the housewhere my husband grew up. Can I transplant it? It isn't very big,really (the size of a rose bush) - and I might have tried moving itanyway if we were staying. Last question: I bought some plants online,thinking they wouldn't be delivered until closer to our closingdate. But lo and behold, they arrived yesterday - and they lookgreat. Should I put them in pots until I can stick them in theground at the new house? Thanks!
---Regina thesentimental gardener; Haddon Heights, NJ
A. Well, myfirst thought here was that missing plants in the vegetable gardenprobably wouldn't matter to the new owners, but that big, in-the-groundperennials like your pussy willow were officially part of the house andcouldn't be removed without the owner's permission.
And Richard Shaw of Prudential Fox & Roach Realtors in Chadds Ford,PA says that my tree moving thoughts are correct. " In the world ofreal estate", he explains, "plants growing in the yard are included inthe sale of the house. If you intend to take a favorite or two withyou, it must be clearly stated to the buyer beforehand. Tell your agenttoo!"
Ah, but Richard adds that vegetable gardens are another story! "Whenyou sell a farm, the growing crops remain the property of the seller",he explains, "and the same principle would apply to a homeowner'svegetable garden. Again, this should be clearly stated just to be safe,but Regina DOES retain the right to come back and pick hervegetables. (Hopefully she's moving somewhere nearby and notacross the country.)" Rich adds that "a qualified Real Estate Licenseecan help clarify these and other berry fruitful questions for concernedgardeners." Cute. Thanks, Rich. Keep your day job.
OK, so if you ARE moving far away, or the new owners don't want youcoming back to harvest your habaneros, you should be able tosuccessfully move the relatively small and upright plants, like peppers,herbsand eggplants.(In fact, it's almost time for me to start telling people my trick ofbringing such plants inside for the winter anyway!)
Water them really well, dig them up in the evening with as much soilattached to their roots as possible, put them into the biggest pots youcan, water them well again and then leave the pots in thegarden—preferably in some shade—for a few days afterward. Then plantthem at your new place in the evening—or, better still, keep them intheir pots and get a nice indoor space ready for them to winter overand go out again next year.
Big, rangy plants like tomatoes are much riskier. If you must try, digthe plants up on the evening you leave, put this Island of Earth in abig box, plant it at the new place that very same evening and thenwater it like mad for the next week. If you CAN'T plant that sameevening, wait for the next available evening—never put ANY transplantin the ground on a summer morning; it will lay down and take a longnap, perhaps forever.
The pussy willow? If the new owners agree to the hole in the ground,you MIGHT be able to move the whole thing. But willows put down roots,baby. What you see up top IS just the tip of the iceberg. If you'restill game, make a big circle around the plant with a shovel, goingdown DEEP. Try to pop it right up out of the ground with the roots allhid inside that big 'island' of dirt, replant it in the evening andwater the heck out of it. Let a hose just drip there for several days.Then water daily if we don't get rain. But I wouldn't try it. I'd justtake a whole bunch of cuttings of this plant—like you did itsparent—and root them at your new place. If you DO insist onmoving the thing, take cuttings first anyway—that way, it'll be alrightwhen you kill the big one.
Big plant moving in general: Best done late Fall or very early Spring(when the plants are all a'sleepies). Dig the new holes soon, while theshoveling is still easy. Then make a big circular island around theplant to be moved, pop it out, plop it into its new hole and waterwell. This works especially well with roses.
And finally, yes, do pot up those new acquisitions. Keep them wellwatered and mostly in shade until they can be safely installed at thenew abode. On this, your timing is good—Fall is the best time to put innew plants.
You Bet Your Garden ©2004 Mike McGrath
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