Gardener's Grapevine 2011.09.14

Written by David Green.

Saturday is almost always clean-up day at our house. Even with the kids gone, there is still a lot of work to do. Owning an old house is constant work and the upkeep never ends. Anyone who admires a well-maintained older home needs to realize the crazy amount of time involved. Add to that my love of gardens, and Saturday becomes a day packed with chores.

This week I spent the majority of the day in the yard cleaning up for fall and assessing the plants that are going to need to lose a little of themselves. Most of our garden flowers are perennials. I can’t see the sense in planting too many annuals, as they are temperamental and only last one growing season.

I like to edge everything in the fall. It cuts the grass’s root system back from the edge of the bed and the winter seems to stunt it. When I edge in the spring it seems like the grass is in full bore growing mode and it grows right back.

We harvested all the sweet corn last weekend. Hopefully I will get the corn shocks gathered up for fall decorating this week.

I spent quite a bit of time pruning the low growing sucker branches from the crabtrees. I still need to pull the grass back from the toe of the trees. A friend of mine from church who is a landscape architect teacher instructed me on the care of trees. She told me a tree breathes from its toes as well as the rest of it, and if you allow the toes to get covered with anything it is not good for the tree and can actually kill it eventually. It’s a slow process, but will eventually happen.

The toes of the tree are the exposed roots at the base. Some people like to mulch around the base of their trees for aesthetic purposes. When mulching, it should be kept back from the tree’s base. I have been guilty of packing mulch and flowers in under the big trees out front until I learned this bit of information. I didn’t quite make it to the pulling of the sod back from the tree’s base phase of my clean up, but there’s always next Saturday.

We had a little peach tree in our side yard that produced the most miserable peaches imaginable. Art brought it home from somewhere, priced as a bargain. Well, you get what you pay for and even the squirrels weren’t impressed. The fruit was all pit with very little meat. The squirrels would pick one, take a bite and throw it on the ground. I felt much the same the first season when we tried them. 

Art loves trees and he kept pushing me not to take the peach tree down. I, on the other hand, feel that all plants have a job and if they are failing it’s time to move on. The tree met it’s end with my dad’s chain saw on Saturday afternoon and I’m not sad at all.

Next year a beautiful tree will be planted with nice big fat fruit in the fall, I hope! Our bonus is that we got some very nice sized logs to chip up and use in the meat smoker and burn in our wood fired pizza oven. Fruit wood has such a yummy flavor. Everything has a use, it’s just not always the originally planned use. 

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