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.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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