Monday, March 15, 2010

Rose Care and a Garden Update

This is all the promise our roses show right now. A few green leaves, a little bit of new life unfurling here and there, but the rest still and brown and dormant.

Before I moved to Albuquerque, I had no idea that roses thrived in the desert. I also had no idea that we would buy a house with eight established rose bushes, including a gorgeous climbing one with big coral blooms that is the focal point of our patio and precisely what made me fall in love with the property. However, our ignorance regarding roses became apparent pretty quickly and the blooms faded. My attempt to feed each plant in the fall, in which I lovingly measured out organic rose food and scratched it into the earth at the base of each bush, ended with the dogs digging it up (hey, it was composed mainly of fish bones and chicken manure, which is pretty much the canine version of caviar), eating it, and farting it out all night. This spring, I really hope to do better.

On Saturday I attended a rose pruning demonstration by the Albuquerque Rose Society. Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the whole thing, being a breastfeeding mama and all, but here are a few things I did learn:
  • Albuquerque residents should prune roses the last week in March.
  • Give bushes a good watering before pruning.
  • 4 or more "canes"--- or main branches coming from the ground--- are ideal. Fewer than that and it is likely your rose bush is not thriving.
  • Prune no more than 1/3 of the plant's height.
  • Branches should grow outward from the center canes. Prune any branches that cross (or will) the center, any dead wood, and any lateral branches smaller than a No. 2 pencil.
  • After pruning, seal cut ends with white glue (such as Elmer's) to prevent pests like carpenter bees from entering the plant.
  • To encourage growth after pruning, put 1/4 cup of Epsom salts around the base of the plant to encourage growth.
I wish I could have stayed longer, but I feel like even that small amount of information is helpful. If you have any other rose care tips, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

In other garden news, our zinnia, dahlia, and Bells of Ireland seedlings are all thriving. However, every other plant has been slow in sprouting or has not sprouted, period. Since I started them on February 20th, I am getting a bit anxious that they may not grow at all. I really want a successful kitchen garden this year, but I may have to start over with seedlings from the nursery if things do not improve shortly.

The bulbs we planted in the fall, though, along with the ones left by the previous owner, are showing signs of life. I love those little harbingers of spring, those croci and daffodils and tulips and hyacinth. They just make me feel happy and alive.

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