No quick fixes for sprucing up roses
by Ronella Stagner, Gardening Columnist
Sep 16, 2009 | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It seems that the column about gardeners taking out their frustrations in the garden struck a common chord. My sister reminded me of her late husband’s extensive vegetable garden. He and his brother grew acres of vegetables, both for their families and to give to old people and poor people. Arthur was a school principal and at the end of his work day, he would go home and don his garden clothes, including his old wide straw hat, and off he would go to his garden where he would chop weeds for hours. Those hours would totally destress him and he would go home refreshed. He said that in the garden there were no disgruntled teachers, no children with problems or teachers who needed something and he could get away for a few hours.

Then there are others who get rid of anger in the garden and others who garden for the beauty of growing plants. No matter the reason, I whole heartedly recommend gardening. I have started several people toward this wonderful hobby and once started, you become addicted.

What to do about your roses? The answer is that you need to do little at this time. It’s too early to mound up dirt around the them but it’s not too early to bring a few buckets of dirt to put nearby for later. Be sure the dirt comes from another part of the garden, not from around the roots of roses. You should mound up the dirt around the roses after the leaves have dropped and the ground is almost frozen. This gardener dislikes to play in the dirt after the cold wind blows. You still need to keep spraying for diseases and insects. Do not fertilize any more. They need time to harden off before the really cold weather.

Keep watering your baby trees. Their life next spring depends on going into winter with plenty of water on their roots.

If you have any leftover seeds, flower or vegetable, you can safely keep them for next year. It seems that the companies always put too many seeds in a packet. Place the seeds in a sealed jar and keep them in a dark, dry, cool place and they will keep for years. I have had good luck by folding up each individual packet and placing several in a jar. If our ancestors could take seeds across the United States in a covered wagon, you know you can keep them.

It’s not too late to start a fall salad garden. You can plant lettuce, mustard greens, onions, radishes and spinach. It only takes a few square feet to have fresh salad vegetables.

If you grow poppies, go out and check to see if the little ones are peeping through the ground. They come up in fall after resting all summer from their big spring performance. They can be transplanted any time now. Once poppies find the right home in your garden, they will thrive for years and years.

About this time each year, we get catalogs from nurseries extolling the virtues of trees that grow twenty feet tall in just no time. There may be other wild claims that you know are not possible. Some trees and shrubs just aren’t going to live in our climate. To be sure of the zone, it’s a safe bet that if it will survive at zone 5, we can grow it. Kentucky and most surrounding states fall in the zones from 5 to 7. If the claim is outlandish and you want to check it out, call your Extension Agent for the true story. Just remember that the fast growing trees are also brittle and seldom survive the winter winds.

Some of my phone calls from readers are just so heartwarming that I feel you would be interested. A Harrodsburg reader, who is past being able to garden herself, has a flower garden outside her back window where she can enjoy watching it grow. Her son keeps it going for her. What a good son! I think she said she is 88 years young and wanted to know how to propagate a Rose of Sharon. I was happy to explain to her the method called “layering” which would work with the low hanging limbs of her Rose of Sharon. I so enjoyed her phone call and I wonder if gardening makes us optimists. Unfortunately, I don’t remember your name but you will recognize the facts.

Did you know that the lowly turnip is one of the most valuable vegetables in terms of nutrition? We kind of look down our noses sometimes at the turnip but who doesn’t love the greens in the fall. You can broadcast the seeds over a part of the vegetable garden and they can be harvested until a hard freeze, both the greens and the turnips. My daughter once went to visit a friend in a northern state and called me. She whispered that “they eat the turnips and throw away the good part, the greens”. You can use the first tender greens in a salad, eat the turnip raw or cooked and eat the wonderful mature greens.

(You can call me at 270-522-3632 or write to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St, Cadiz, KY 42211. You can order my book, “Going Through the Garden” by sending $12.)
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