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.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.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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