|KnockOut Roses are a great way to start a rose garden.|
They are disease free and bloom abundantly with a little care:
mulch, water, and prune.
Yesterday was so much fun. The roses were begging to be pruned, so I put on the work gloves, opened my new shears, and began. Many dabblers in rose growing are allergic to pruning.
Prunes are good for bushes. The dead wood saps energy and needs to be cut away. The living branches are trained and shaped by cutting. Roses will put more energy into the remaining parts when thinned. The plant increases its growing energy, above and below ground.
I pruned the crepe myrtle (still dormant) to wake it up and get more energy into the flowering cycle. Rose prunes are always moved away, but I let the crepe myrtle twigs fall into its mulch to provide more organic matter and potential bird nest material.
|Straw bales are an inexpensive source|
of neutral planting material, and they have a sweet aroma.
I have potatoes and strawberries planted in mine,
with gourds planted on the sides.
Following Brett Meyer's lasagna approach to mulching, I had the straw bales sitting on newspapers that were on top of old wood mulch and ragweed from last summer. The newspapers stuck out from the bales and looked like poorly packed pajamas popping out of suitcases. I put two wheelbarrows of fine, aged autumn leaves along the base. Wood mulch went on top of the leaves, adding some chic to the hillbilly look of a straw bale garden.
Of the 16 roses from last year, only one appeared to have died. I pruned that back hard, just in case it was snoozing. The rest of the roses were cut back by 1/3rd or 2/3rds. There is no magical way to judge, except to prune each one for future growth and shape.
KnockOut Roses are easy-care, not abandon, fail-to-mulch-and water, no-care roses. They are disease free and bloom like crazy. Cut and enjoy the flowers. Make new friends by sharing them.
Pruning is fun because it is always good for the roses. If blackspot appears, a quick prune will keep the spores from increasing. Most of the growing season, my pruning means cutting roses for the altar and for others. Otherwise, like all plants, roses want their flowers to turn into seed. That makes roses want to stop producing flowers - the reason why many roses do not look good or produce well.
|So much work! - dig a hole in the rose garden -|
plant a Crown Imperial stinky bulb .
Watch them grow a stalk and hang their flowers from the crown.
Last year's Jackson Mulch is almost intact, except for Crown Imperials and Giant Aliums growing through it. If a dandelion grows, I will let it blossom and set seed. Hummingbirds use the parachute silk for nests. The roots drill down into the soil and earthworms often use the root for a trip upstairs. People yank out a dandelion after a long rain (easy pull) and find an earthworm wrapped around the root. What does that say? Dandelions are great for the hard-working tillers of the soil, earthworms. They also shed a lot of herbal plant material for soil creatures. So stop hating on them.
With rain predicted today and tomorrow, I wanted the pole beans and carrots in the soil. For my abs workout, I raked the mulch back from along the fence. I already had 30 asparagus roots planted there, and I knew where the spots were. Peas were already sprouting there too, very close to the fence,as planned. They surprised me by waiting a long time to pop up.
Parallel to the peas and asparagus row, I cut a groove in the soft soil with my shovel. That is easy at first - but my two-pack resisted being turned into a six-pack. I seldom plant seeds. I tried the bombing run approach, which had me missing the groove most of the time. I found a quick sweeping motion got the beans in the right place to cover and tamp down with the rake. Carrot seeds (very tiny) went in the same groove.
I began with 7500 carrot seeds. One does not count seeds and plant them one by one when starting with those numbers.
|Kong Sunflowers are a good way to capture solar energy|
and produce a lodging and food for many creatures.
A grasshopper may live on a sunflower and eat there,
but he cannot keep up with the growth.
So the fence has peas sprouting, asparagus roots growing, pole beans and carrots planted. Along the back fence the earlier black oil sunflowers stayed alive during the last two snow storms (thank you Jackson Mulch) and were poking up for serious growth in the sunshine. I planted Kong Sunflowers, which promise to grow 14 feet tall with branches. They will help screen the backyard view and feed the critters (bees, birds, squirrels).
Mrs. Ichabod wanted to go to the gym at this point, which is really a good idea for both of us. She is managing her diabetes better with regular, very gradual and easy biking. I can prevent injuries by using the equipment, perhaps building up to a four-pack. The Medicare Advantage program covers the gym fee - for geezers.
Amazon suggested some books for me to buy. I could not resist an inexpensive Kindle e-book about cover crops. $3? I can afford that if I learn one new thing about gardening and the soil.
The author has two websites:
- Waldeneffect - homesteading in the era of hope and change.
- Wet Knee Books - learn from someone else's experiences.
This is a sample from the book, which I hope to review more later.
During the last four years that I've experimented with growing cover crops, my garden soil has turned darker and yields of many vegetables have increased dramatically. Both my own honeybees and wild pollinator populations have been boosted by the copious nectar produced by buckwheat plantings, and my chickens have enjoyed the winter greenery from oilseed radish leaves. Plus, Plus, having cover crops on the ground during the winter prevents erosion, keeps soil microorganisms humming along, and just makes the garden a more interesting place to be. Nowadays, I can't imagine doing without my beds of buckwheat, radishes, and oats.
Hess, Anna (2013-12-07). Homegrown Humus: Cover Crops in a No-till Garden (Permaculture Gardener Book 1) (Kindle Locations 24-27). Wetknee Books. Kindle Edition.
With some planning, a gardener can extend the season and create more food for the soil and bees with cover crops. For instance, someone has bought 10 pounds of bean seeds. Planting them late in the season will give them time to grow up (and grow productive roots) and then die in the first hard frost. That new green plant material will feed the soil as mulch and also enliven the nitrogen compounds among the roots.
|Hummingbirds love scarlet runner beans,|
which are probably in very short supply now.
|Yeserday, I found bean pods still clinging to the fence,|
black and ghostly, but still good for helping the soil.