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.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016