Gardener's Grapevine 2011.10.19

Written by David Green.

What a lovely day to snuggle up with a good book and a warm blanket Sunday turned out to be. Rainy and cold fall days are some of my favorites because it’s an excuse to be lazy for a while. I am never a person to sit still and I’m certainly not lazy, but sitting around reading doing nothing is a huge treat in my chaotic and crazy life. 

Fall rains are as necessary as rain at any other time of the year. They clean the leaves off the trees, replenish the water supply and dampen the compost to start breaking it down. Is there any better weather for a good nap?

With all the leaves coming down it’s a good time to discuss composting. Leaves are good to an extent in compost, but they cannot be all you use for compost because they will not break down completely for two or three years. A good compost pile needs a good mix of ingredients just like a good recipe does. Straw, manure, newsprint (not the shiny ads, but the actual newsprint), kitchen scraps that are non-meat or bones, some kinds of sawdust, leaves, and other organic matter are a good mix.

If you use sawdust in your compost do some research first as it can dramatically change the pH levels of your compost. Also some woods are actually toxic to certain plants. Coffee grounds will make your compost acidic, tea bags—strings and all—add a lesser amount of acid, but make good compost. Roses love banana peels; I chop them up and spread them around the bases of my roses. Egg shells are excellent in compost as worms eat them and the more worms in your compost pile the quicker it will turn over into good soil. 

Leaves are often used to cover roses in the winter. My great-grandmother Hila Eldridge used to have me cover her roses with leaves to protect the root bases from snow and ice, which can freeze the plant at the graft and kill it. Most rose gardeners will tell you that leaves are not a good thing for roses for many reasons including mold, mildew, and acid. But I will confess that I have many roses and I do cover them with leaves to protect them and I remove the leaves as soon as possible when the freezes are over in the spring.

I would suggest that if rose gardening is your forté you contact someone who is concentrated in rose knowledge. Mr. Emmons at Emmons’ Dairy farm on State Route 108 outside Morenci is an excellent rose gardener and his gardens are amazing. Hidden Lake Gardens can also be a great resource for advice.

My roses do well, but could probably do better with a little more effort on my part. Do not prune or feed your roses anymore this year. It is time to start heading toward their dormancy and a good sleep starts with being left alone. With that in mind, I think it’s time to take advantage of a rainy day nap.

  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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