The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rain-barrels for Jackson Rose Gardens ICU


The rain began to fall yesterday, so I felt a strong compulsion to gather some. My backyard barrels were full, but the logistics problem remained. Most roses are in the front, and hauling water is a little retro for me.

Rainwater is the ideal cure for plants, because it contains dissolved nitrogen compounds. Last summer I carried rainwater to struggling roses and they recovered fast.

The challenge in roses is keeping their roots happy. I had a lot of new ones last year, newly planted in the lawn and then mulched. Planting in the lawn, mulching around them - that is a fast way to turn lawn into compost. But there still remains a titanic struggle below, grass rotting, creatures backing away from the heated decomposition, then coming back to feast. They need to be surrounded by a fair amount of of neutral (mulched) territory.

Roses want space. They are soloists, not team players. When leftover roses went into the back garden and shared space with some other plants, they bloomed but did not do well. The care they got resulted in a healthy crop of weeds, which suppressed growth. Those four were moved around the maple tree, which now has two circles of roses, a total of 18 bushes.

So I bought two plastic garbage barrels at Walmart and placed them under the eaves to catch the rain. The wheelbarrow is left out to catch rain for soaking new plants.

Meanwhile, the praying mantis egg cases are on a sunny window sill, waiting for warm and buggy weather so they can hatch. The extra cases were shared with the grandchildren, who now have a place for them at home.

Giant Allium - garlic family.

Fall mulching means the cold, soggy weather of early Spring is quite productive. Fall planted bulbs rise first. We had daffodils on Wednesday. Tulips are emerging from the ground. The last round will be gigantic garlic flowers.

The crepe myrtle bush also responds to pruning,
the cuttings left as mulch to feed the soil creatures.

A layer of leaves on the gardens, under trees and bushes, will rot into the ground in early spring. All winter, we had a pyramid of maple leaves under the pampered crepe myrtle bush (near the mailbox). The shape did not seem to change, though its insulation and dampness was promoting the bottom layer being digested by soil creatures. Now the pyramid of leaves is flattened out completely. Soon most of it will be gone, after feeding the soil and the roots of the bush all winter and spring. The biomass beneath will favor the crepe myrtle all summer.

Chemical gardeners say, "I need NPK on my plants to make them grow. And I have to water them with tapwater, because the chemicals make the plants even thirstier. And I don't want to burn them out with too much fertilizer."

The Creation gardeners respond, "I need to keep the organic material in my yard and on the soil and gardens. The rain and snow will help the soil creatures rot everything into the soil. That will create a biomass, a living collection of little water bottles and usable organic fertilizer to feed my plant roots all summer."

Are four rain-barrels two too many? Tis better to have and not need than to need and not have.


Thanks to all who write and say they like the gardening articles. You can thank ____ from ____, who encouraged me to post about gardening. He laughs about that every time we talk, now that 400 posts are published.