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January 06, 2006

Miscellaneous notes and stuff

Yeah, no way I'm actually doing anything out there the first week of January. The weather has actually been unseasonably damp and warm (well, aside from any questions about what's unseasonable in Ohio, in this day and age), but there's really no point doing much about anything, except drooling over online catalogs and discussing dates.

One thing's for damned sure -- I ain't planting any of the pepper seeds in the starters until the middle of March. Learned my lesson last year -- starting shit in late January or early February is way, way too early! Especially with the heated starters -- the stuff sprouts in about half the time on the seed packets.

And besides that, all I have seeds for are three kinds of peppers (not sure if we'll try the poblanos again this year or not, thought he jalapenos and chiles did really well last year) and a melange of dianthus. Not even sure if I'll try the dianthuses -- I didn't get a single start, last year, because they all got taken over by some fungus. It killed every stinkin' one.

On to the big shit -- notes on what we should be doing in the coming months, once things start to warm up.

First of all, we've discussed purchase of a new composter. The one we got from the City Of Kettering is nice, but I really think with as much stuff as we plant every year, we could probably justify one of the spinning composters. I'm thinking a medium-sized one would be good -- we could set it right beside the old composter, load it up from that, then keep the old one to hold stuff until the load is ready to use as mulch. That way, we have a storage bin and a composter, so the two or three weeks it takes the rolling composters to actually provide compost won't hold us back from stockpiling grass, leaves and kitchen waste.

Second on the "we're going to do this" list is figuring out where my new rosebush will go. I decided on the Louise Odier from Antique Rose Emporium. I wanted an old-style rose -- the Odier is a Bourbon -- that had big, rounded blooms. The photo at ARS doesn't do it justice -- it's a bright pink rose that starts out with big, rounded blooms that eventually flatten out almost like a centifolia rose. With all the cheesy, patented roses in my neighborhood, I actually quite like to throw some antique stock out there. Besides, though 'own root' roses are a little slower to establish, they're hardier and tend to live longer than the 'rose in a box' roses you buy at the garden centers or WalMart that are grafted to cheap rootstocks. Own-root roses establish and go on and on, according to most of the rose sources I've found. Additionally, I can select roses hardy beyond my zone and that are less susceptible to black spot and powdery mildew, both of which we're inclined to have to fight during a damp summer here.

Third, and falling over the line into 'things we might possibly do this summer, but will probably procrastinate and/or talk ourselves out of doing' is the scorched earth clearing and resodding of the back slope, behind the house. It's currently home to several diseased forsythia bushes, a honeysuckle shrub (different from the Asian honeysuckle vines that are considerably more invasive), what may be a witchhazel or other reasonably native shrub, a hundred miscellaneous golden raintree babies of varying ages, and weeds varied and glorious -- including Rose Of Sharon, which is pretty if it's in your neighbor's yard but a bitch if it's in yours. It's in ours, now. Our neighbors are a blight on the landscape anyway, with their camper trailer and abandoned dune buggy in the back yard.

S'anyway, I don't know if that will happen this year or not. Be nice, but I ain't holdin' my breath, eh?

Curious to see if my dwarf irises I planted out by Cecile v.2 come up or not. I ameliorated the earth out in the old swamp maple spot with at least 50% organic topsoil mixed with compost from the only somewhat effective composter, so who knows what will happen? Bought them cheap, too, at the same time I bought the lilac bush I mention farther down. They, at least, were planted at the right time -- whether that will prove to be the right place is another question entirely.

I think that's about it, other than choosing the spot for the Louise Odier and prepping the spot. The plant is due to ship from Austin a few weeks later then the Cecile Brunners did in 2005 -- I've planned for them to arrive sometime around a week and a half into May. By then, we should be past the 'frost window' and I should have time for the earth to thaw out enough that I can weed, till and prepare the soil for planting a rosebush. I'm thinking of dropping it in out front, on the right side (facing the FOH) of the picture window. The height predictions on the Odier are four to six feet, but I'm figuring in this zone -- about middling for the rose's climatic tolerance -- it's going to lean at the lower end of the height, not the higher. Of course, the first couple of years it won't be enormous anyhow.

That's about it, so far. No pictures, because frankly when it's been pretty out it's been colder than a postman's elbow, and when it's been warm it's been like walking through pea soup, including the lack of decent light. Most everything but the evergreens is dead-looking anyway.

Let's wager on how many of the cheap flowering almonds survives this winter, shall we? I'm guessing one will do well, a second will do moderately well, and a third will die. Even odds on the Sensation lilac, since I planted it fall instead of spring. It was cheap from Spring Hill in the fall, though. See, I wasn't sure if a lilac qualified as a perennial flowering plant or a shrub, so I thought I'd try it in the fall and see if it went okay. If it croaks, I can easily afford to try again in April or May.

Enow, for now. Not much I can actually do out there right now except stare out the windows and wonder what will survive (it hasn't been an especially hard winter, so most everything ought to do okay that was supposed to), and what will have to be replaced. Ideas will, of course, be deposited here as I come up with them. It works for me.

Posted by Melinda at January 6, 2006 11:51 PM


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