Make your house memorable with these chores
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Nov 14, 2012 | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Have you ever passed by some house that catches your attention, time and time again? I always remember a house in Tennessee which I passed by many times and never failed to notice how beautiful it was. I finally realized that it was not the house so much but the landscaping which I was admiring. The house was an ordinary brick home like many others, but what a picture it was with the most beautiful flower beds. I noticed eventually that there were some statuary and some garden seats and many, many perennials with some small evergreens scattered around in the beds. I finally learned just where to watch for that house. One day, as I was craning my neck to see the back yard, I noticed that the gardener had three wooden bins of compost behind a gardening shed. Then I realized that here lived a smart gardener who used compost on those beautiful flower beds.

Compost really does make a big difference, and it is so easy to start a compost pile. You don’t necessarily need the wooden bins. You can use chicken wire to form a square or just let it pile up on the ground. As you finish using one pile, start another one with the little bit of compost left on the ground and you can have two piles of that good, rich compost. This time of year, with all the leaves, is an ideal time to start a compost pile which will be ready by next spring if it is kept moist and turned occasionally.

I have used everything imaginable on my compost, including the dirt from the vacuum bag, hair from the beauty shops, kitchen scraps, banana peels, peach peels, manure, leaves, dead tops of perennials and annuals, egg shells and always some dirt. Let your imagination run wild. Just don’t use meat scraps, cooked vegetables and citrus. But most anything goes.

There are some chores you must do in November. Get your tulip bulbs in the ground by the end of November and you might also have been planning to buy some dwarf fruit trees. If you have some big pots left from the annuals of summer, consider filling them with tulip bulbs. The pots can hold a dozen or more. Another use for those big empty pots is to plant some small, very small, evergreens. When spring comes, you can plant those little evergreens among your perennials until they get big enough for use in other places.

A few times, I asked the garden store owner if they were ready to throw away the seeds from the racks. The seed companies don’t want year-old seeds and the stores usually are happy to give them to you. I have planted the perennials in my little nursery and it’s like Christmas when they come up. Who knows what will grow up to use in my beds. Also I planted lots of annuals for use in the perennial beds. The seeds are still good the following spring.

If you are a real bargain hunter, check at the garden stores for bargains in mulch, peat moss, etc. They usually don’t want to carry them over until next season, taking up space.

I would call myself a frugal gardener and most of us are since we want to buy everything we see and are forced to be a bit frugal.

This is a great time to go over your garden while there is a semblance of a garden left, and make a list of the things you would like to add, whether it is some beautiful rocks, plants or maybe a bench or some statuary. Then you can add something interesting to your Christmas list. All the garden catalogs will be happy to mail a gift certificate. Your local nursery would also be most happy to mail a gift certificate or give one to you to send. Every gardener I ever knew had a wish list. You can get ideas from gardening magazines or garden catalogs. A wish list gives you a place to put down those ideas so you can remember them when it’s time to actually lay out a plan.

I have a friend who made a rock garden as a gift to her mother-in-law and I still think that is the most wonderful gift I ever knew. Those are the things which take some thought and lots of planning.

There will soon be little time to think about next year’s flower gardens, with Thanksgiving and Christmas soon upon us, so this short time before it all starts to take up most of your time is a great time for making plans.

And, by the way, if there is some really interesting item in a local garden store or in a catalog which you really want, just throw caution to the winds and buy yourself an early Christmas gift. I could always think of a reason for buying some item I really wanted.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632 with questions and/or suggestions.
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