Friday, October 19, 2012

Growing Roses: Pleasant Outcome in Pennsylvania!

When my husband and I were first married, we rented a 1940s house with two beautiful rose bushes growing on the side of the house.  They were the red long-stemmed kind that any woman would kill to have at her disposal any time she felt like a rose! Although I didn't know anything about roses at the time, I was happy to cut the flowers and bring them in to vases.  Unlike the recommended full sun, these were in mostly shade.  Those rose bushes that defied the odds made me think I could use any condition to grow roses in our new home. 

So when we bought our first home, I tried over and over to grow long-stemmed type roses in our full sun backyard.  That's what the books recommended.  Over and over the roses bushes would die.  Even the existent rose bushes that came with the house all died off within a few years (the ones in the full sun) and the ones in the shady front yard continued to grow.  What gives, I thought?  To this day, I can't explain the success of the ones in the front yard.  However, I just finally had success.  Now, it's only been a few months (and I tend to kill them after the first year), however the growth of this bush gives me hope!
Here's the rose bush only 2 months in the ground, already growing!
If you remember my deck makeover, I had added a cheapy rose bush.  I mean cheap!  I bought it at Produce Junction on a whim for $12.  Then I just plopped it in the ground where the daylilly used to sit.  I wish I could say I prepared the soil with compost or that I really cleaned up all the daylilly roots.  Nope.  I was rushed for time and just added some cheap fill dirt.  I really didn't expect it to live.  Apparently, this hands off approach has worked!  Just 4 months later and the bush has more than doubled in size and the roses are already long enough to cut for a vase!  I'm so psyched.  I wish I could tell you what kind of a rose bush this is, but at the discount store where I bought it, they were just labeled "Roses, $12", nothing more.  Looking back, it not only has full sun for almost 8 hours a day, but being in the surrounding deck bed, it is like a mini-raised bed.  And with all of our Pennsylvania rain, maybe the drainage was the biggest issue in past growing seasons.  Time to get the rose clippers and fill the vase again!
October 2012, already almost as tall as the deck rail!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Frost Watch/Warning: tips for the garden

Frost Watch/Warning!  It strikes fear in the heart of gardeners with young plants in the Spring, or those trying to extend their growing season in the Fall.  Those are the words now popping up on our forcast for Friday night into Saturday.  My initial reaction was the usual "oh no!" until I realized that my garden is now filled with cold weather crops.  They'll enjoy this drop in temps.  However, my zucchini, which does not realize that it is October 11th, might need a little help tomorrow night.  Yes, I will not give up on it as long as it's still producing!  If you're in need of some garden protection, here's a few ideas with links.  Bundle up those plants, it's going to be cold outside!  And if you remember my Spring blog on how I tried to call Mother Nature's bluff, I won't be doing that again. 

1.  Build a frame that can be used for a tarp, plastic sheeting, or mesh.   This is useful for protection from heat, cold, or insects.
PVC pipe for frame (click for more info)

2.  Place some sticks in between the rows to hold up a tarp.

Community Garden at our local elementary school "tucked in" for a night of frost last year

3.  Build/Buy a larger-scale cloche.
These garden "tents" look cozy!  Click here for more info.
No matter how you cover your gardens, remember to heed the frost warnings.  Your plants will thank you in the morning!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Accepting Fall

I love autumn, it's a beautiful time of year.  It's the season of my wedding annivesary.  It's the time when my firstborn was born!  The only downfall, is that it means leaving behind summer, which I love so much more.  So in my garden, I try to keep those summer crops going as long as possible.  Today, with acceptance, I went out and pulled the tomatoes.  Normally, they would last until the first frost.  However, many nights in the 40s, combined with endless stink bug bites, and my tomatoes are done.  Correction:  they are beyond done and begging me to put them out of their misery.  They are moldy done.  You get the picture.  So with my Fiscars pop-up gardening bag to catch the debris, and my clippers in hand, I proceeded to pull them out.  And with that one small act of cleaning the garden, I had to accept that Summer was officially over.  Never mind the low 80 degree temperatures we're hitting today or the summer-like humidity, autumn has arrived.  Sunday's forcast shows that today's temps are just a fluke.  Even my cold weather veggies are emerging in the garden (carrots, radishes, spinach, romaine, broccoli).  So bring on the pumpkins, and hayrides, and Halloween decorating.  Wait a zucchini plants across the yard think it's still summer.  Hooray, they're still cranking out huge zucchini.  I can live out my summer ending at least a little longer.