Garden tips, garden diary, and challenges?

strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)September 17, 2013

I have heavy clay, poor drainage, so roses in raised beds bloom better. Since we have lots of rain & snow in my zone 5a, I choose resin Suncast bed, rather than wood.

It's brown resin-slabs, sold for $100 at Lowe's. These slabs lock into any shape: long rectangle, 2 squares, or 2-stacks square. Fit 4 big roses, took 10 minutes to put up.

I killed weeds & grass in advance with thick black plastic "Mulch Film" sold for $5 for a 50' x 4' large roll. Once the grass & weeds are dead, I roll up the plastic UNDER and at the out-skirts of the frame, to prevent weeds from creeping into the bed.

See picture below of Suncast Resin Raised Bed, with Charles Darwin rose bought from Chamblee's Nursery in Texas.

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 12:13

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Here's a picture of killing grass with black plastic "Mulch Film" for $5 a big roll. Once the grass is dead, I roll up the plastic and keep it under the brick, so grass can't crawl through.

When the grass was dead, I planted my roses .... I was too lazy to dig in "Professional Black Plastic Edging" ... so far grass hasn't crawl through the roll-up-black plastic with bricks on top.

My 70+ years old neighbor followed my example and did the same: she put black plastic to kill grass, once killed, she rolled the plastic under the bricks to keep the grass from entering.

The above $5 method works better than the $$$ expensive green plastic edging from Lowe's ... we had to nail that edging in, plus it flopped out.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 10:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I was reading the previous thread "Looking for roses truly resistant to blackspots", and found this post:

â¢Posted by mairenn 7-8 GA (My Page) on Thu, Jul 9, 09

In 15 years in Georgia I have never seen blackspot on a Cherokee or a Lady Banks. (or, sad to say, a wild Multiflora!) I have rarely seen any on a China, including Mutabilis ....

The good news: Powdered milk spray does in fact stop powdery mildew. Baking soda spray (put on the new growth in desperation after the first defoliation) seems to have utterly prevented a repeat outbreak of blackspot. This is the first year I've tried it, and here's hoping it keeps working.

Another thing I've noticed: I used oak leaf for mulch in some beds and not in others, and it seems to make the blackspot worse." Mairenn.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 7:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I used raised beds in northern Ohio. I lined the inside walls of the raised beds with styrofoam insulation board.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 8:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
ingrid_vc(Z10 SoCal)

I'd like to try the baking soda spray on my Burgundy Iceberg, which after 5 years in the ground got blackspot and now, even in the dry heat, continues to do so. Since I don't know how much to use I'll just have to wing it. I hope baking soda doesn't have any negative effects, although I suppose it must have salt in it.

I've heard that putting black plastic on grass, if it's left on long enough and while the weather is warm, can turn the decomposing grass and dirt into really nice soil. The only problem is that you have to leave it on for quite a few months.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 8:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

my cousin living in Seattle, WA, found out the new house has drainage problem & heavy clay in the front & backyard, people from local nursery suggested to have raised bed for roses, well, you have the wonderful idea, very practical too, I forward your thread to them, they sure appreciate the details & photos, hopefully soon they will enjoy the roses of raised bed garden. Thank you!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 8:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Hi Seaweed: My neighbor uses wooden-boxes (treated with mold-retardant), and his still haven't decayed after a decade. He gets grass creeping into his box, since he used card-board to kill grass, rather than plastic.

Hi Henry: Thanks for that great tip on lining the inside of raised bed with Styrofoam insulation. I lost a mini-rose last winter, since I planted it too close to the edge.

Hi Ingrid: Potassium bicarbonate (Green Cure) is more effective than baking soda for mildew, but NOT so for black spot. It sprays on evenly and sticks to surface.

You are right about black plastic solarizes grass into good soil. I put "Mulch Film" in the fall, let them sit through the winter, and roll up in spring, and get fluffy soil, less alkaline than my rock-hard clay, when I pull off the plastic:

Here is a link that might be useful: The many uses of lime

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Tue, Sep 24, 13 at 13:36

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I keep deer and rabbits AWAY by copy-cat the most effective weapon against deer ... Bobbex in Connecticut study. I beat 2 eggs with a touch of Thai fish sauce, a few cups of water, then basted lower leaves with a large barbecue brush. Or I just sprinkled that randomly on top.

The egg-wash above is effective for 3 weeks, despite the rain. If it rains hard, I re-enforce with the most stinky and cheap curry powder pictured below, only $2 for a big bottle. Plus stinky clove, less than $2.

I learn my lesson NOT to sprinkle hot spices on the leaves, they burn in hot sun. I sprinkle spices on the ground... and no bunnies nor deer come near .. work better than deodorant soap. Below is the link that shows what's most effective in both the Illinois Walnut Council and the Connecticut studies on deer-control.

Here is a link that might be useful: Keep deer away from roses

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 10:45

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:33AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Deer hates mint. My front roses are safe with a mint patch in front. I plant them in bottom-off buckets to prevent mint from spreading. Commercial recipes range from mint, citrus pouches, coyote urine, and most successful: stinky eggs.

The coyote urine failed in 2 studies. The intensity and duration of urine matters more than what kind. For the past 12 years I have no deer in my garden, thanks to my neighbor's 4 cats using mine as their litter-box. This spring she moved away, then the deer came. I mulched with horse manure, it reeked for a few days, no deer. Once the rain washed that scent off, the deer came back.

There's an opening in my backyard that deer came to devour my roses. I got quotes for a partial 19 feet fence, with a gate, the cost? $850, plus my husband hates trimming around the fence.

Deer jump over the fence, if there is room ahead. If not, they go under the fence. Since deer raise their white tails to signal danger, they are afraid of white in the dark. So I hung white plastic bags on the trees, plus putting strings across as recommended by a University study, at 1 foot, 2 feet, and 3 feet tall. It works!

Some animal snapped my brown string off, so I re-tied it using polyester string, which won't decay in the rain. The guy at the store told me polyester string can withstand rain better than nylon, fabric, or wicker type.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info. on deer control & studies

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 12:20

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Those beds look good. I like Karl's advice to me of using cardboard over weeds and then covering that with mulch when you have a little more than you can pull at the moment.

Glad to see our friends here. I think this can be a friendly place to be if we make it that way. Keep up with the good pictures and all the good thoughts. Everybody sharing their ideas without being pounced on. Just take what good ideas you can use for your own garden.

Right now I am waiting for the heat to leave and then the cool season will begin and I can move a volunteer of Blush Boursault that touched down and rooted itself . I love this thornless rose. It has zero disease problems and the spring bloom is so pretty. My first one is freestanding but I am thinking of putting it on a trellis so that the neighbor won't have it growing over to his side. Then the one in the front can be a freestanding fountain like the back one was. Right now this is my challenge. To move all these large roses off that wall and switch them with more compact growers that I can keep from hanging over the wall. I used to have a friend that lived there and we both loved the antiques and DA roses. She couldn't garden very much because of her health but she loved to cut flowers for the house or to see them out of the window. The new neighbors don't want anything hanging over so I have to do some moving this fall/winter.

I need a new wheelbarrow, my old one is full of holes and ready to become a lettuce planter!

    Bookmark   September 19, 2013 at 11:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Hi Kitty: I appreciate your sharing about your garden. Thank you. I share the same philosophy: be nice & polite, speak for oneself only, and honestly sharing one's experience ... rather than control or nit-pick. Speaking for oneself is much better than speaking for others.

Our yard waste in Chicagoland costs the same as garbage disposal .. .I find ways to pack it better. In the past, I jumped into the bag, and ripped it accidentally. Now I use a small grocery bag to collect weeds, jump on the small bag 1st, before putting into the tall yard waste.

Then I use a deep & empty Styrofoam pot, to push the stuff into the tall bag. I pack branches first, then compressed weeds bags on top, and push down further with an empty Styrofoam pot. See picture below:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 11:09

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 5:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have so many leaves to compost right now. I cut back the long hedge and stripped off the leaves and just put the branches out for the city to collect. I have an area where I am layering the leaves with kitchen scraps and then soil. I did that for my corner rose bed four years ago and it was good soil when I went to plant it three years later. I grew small shallow rooted flowers on the top while I was waiting for all the leaves and twigs to be turned into food by the earthworms. This summer we have been adding mango peels to the banana peels when we feed the roses.

Here is my Eternal Flame this fall. It made a 9',5" cane. It is the tallest HT I ever grew.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 1:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

OH MY GOODNESS! Kitty! That is awesome. It looks like a lush paradise for me. I have never seen roses that vigorous before ...

I went to Organic Gardening Forum and saw folks posted pics. of "Hugel-gardening", putting branches in the bottom, then leaves, then soil on top. My healthiest rose, Bolero, is fertilized with stale grains: oatmeal, rye and barley flakes, and whole-grain corn meal. Below is Bolero floribunda rose, with 40+ blooms in 80 degrees dry heat (no rain for weeks). It's next to 2 trees:

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Wed, Oct 23, 13 at 16:53

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 7:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I'm not the only one who use sugar via molasses to deepen blooms' color. Jim1961 changed the color of his Mr. Lincoln from red to purple by putting sugar in the vase water. See Jim's purple Mr. Lincoln posted in Rose Gallery:

Here's an excerpt from previous thread:
RE: This is for Carol, or PortlandMysteryrose

â¢Posted by Strawberryhill 5a IL (My Page) on
Sun, Jun 9, 13 at 14:44

On page 248 of Science book, see link below, in 1908 the Rhode Island Rose society did experiments of cut roses, and they found a 7 to 10% sugar solution improved the appearance of cut roses, plus deepened the colors of the pink varieties.

Which explains why Gardenville Sea Tea with molass deepened the colors of Serena's roses in KS, listed under Organic Honey-bees Garden profile in HMF.
**** from Straw: Below is Evelyn in my garden, color deepened with molasses, picture taken in hot August, above 85 degrees. But when I put too much gypsum (calcium sulfate) around Evelyn, her blooms turned almost white in our cold fall.

Here is a link that might be useful: 1908 Rhode Island experiment with cut roses

    Bookmark   November 6, 2013 at 4:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I found an excellent site that listed what type of weeds commonly found in what type of soils, see below:
The link has good tips on how to fix each type of soil. For compacted alkaline clay, here are the tips:

"Break up the top 2â of soil using a spading fork (no shovel), preferably in the fall. Adding a 2â layer of composted manure and leaves mixed with
10% -20% worm compost.

With the added microbes and worms aiding in soil fertility and helping to break up the soil, you don't need to break out the old rototiller or spend hours double-digging. Churning the soil like that only harms the existing microbiology, particularly fungi."

Another excerpt on compacted soil:

"Crabgrass: This weed grows in all areas of the U.S. Favors low calcium, dry areas and low levels of organic matter. If it's in a lawn area outside your garden beds, it will find its way into your beds. As crabgrass favors low calcium, like dandelions, you may want to try this organic tip ... Adding 23-30 lbs of gypsum per 1000 sq.ft. will help to loosen things up. "

Here is a link that might be useful: Types of weed and types of soil

    Bookmark   November 12, 2013 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I researched on other ways to aerate clay besides composted pine bark, coarse sand, and compost. I checked on Turface (calcinated clay, slightly acidic, holds moisture), and Napa Floor Dry (diatomite, dusty, holds more moisture than Turface). Both Turface and Napa Floor Dry would be too wet for my heavy clay.

Here's an excerpt from U. of Colorado regarding soil additives: " When amending sandy soils, the goal is to increase the soilâÂÂs ability to hold moisture and store nutrients. To achieve this, use organic amendments that are well decomposed, like composts, peat, or aged manures.

With clay soils, the goal is to improve soil aggregation, increase porosity and permeability, and improve aeration and drainage. Fibrous amendments like wood chips, tree bark or straw are most effective in this situation. Vermiculite is not a good choice for clay soils because of its high water retention."

I agree with U. of Colorado, peat-moss (high water retention) was a disaster when mixed with my heavy clay: it became glue. In contrast, large size, porous red lava rocks were great when mixed with my clay: it aerates and supplied its high potassium, iron, zinc, and boron for my clay. See below link for nutrients in lava rock, with pH of 8.2, and high potassium at 59 ppm.

Bluegirl informed me that the bands from Vintage Garden has lava sand on top. Keep surface dry and alkaline is the key to fungal prevention.

Below is an excellent link in Bonsai growing that detailed the properties of additives: Lava pellets, Pumice, Turface, Haydite (expanded shale), Perlite, Vermiculite, Chicken grit, and river sand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Mineral components in Bonsai growing

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 13:12

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 2:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

here is the Dry Stall from local feed barn, around $11got it in summer, 40 lbs bag, Kat Co, San Clemente, CA 92672.
I used it to mix in the planting soil, garden soil, Amend or even compost, when I prep the soil for roses, pot or in the ground, the amount is as needed. It is working well for my garden because I do not use peat moss, silicon gel, or rocks. It is granules of lava.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

Thank you, Seaweed, for that picture of Dry-Stall horse bedding product. That's a great price, and works well like Turface, according to Al (Tapla) in Container Forum:

â¢Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
Wed, Dec 17, 08 at 17:28
I was given a 5 lb bag of it to try while at a bonsai convention in CHI. I used it to make a batch of succulent soil & couldn't see any difference between the plants I planted in it and Turface mix. .. It's color is more gray/white than the reddish/tan of Turface."

Stall Dry (diatomaceous earth & clay ) is different from Dry Stall (pumice, larger granules than Turface)

There's University CA Davis's guide to succulents, which states that Dry Stall is pumice sold at the feed store ... to use a mix of half soil and half-pumice for most succulents.

â¢Posted by jack_r 9 ( on
Tue, Oct 6, 09 at 1:00

"Before you go crushing up all that lava rock call around to your local feed stores and ask for a product called Dry Stall. It is agricultural grade pumice and comes in 40 lb. bags for about $7 I think. I have been using it for several years here in CA. Feed stores sell it to horse people to spread down in stalls to absorb moisture. The particle size is about 1/8". I wash mine to remove the fines and it works perfectly in my bonsai and succulent soil mix."

*** From Straw: Pumice is whitish crushed lava rock, with some potassium and sodium. It holds moisture and nutrients well. Potassium and trace elements are much lower than red and black lava rock. See link below:

"With a cec that hovers around 75 meq/100g (depending on source) it requires less frequent fertilizing that most other soil components when used alone. Pumice can hold large quantities of water - up to four times its own weight. This, coupled with the soft and easily powdered surface means that when used alone or with other absorbent materials, careful watering is necessary to avoid water logging."

Here is a link that might be useful: Mineral components in Bonsai growing

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 13:24

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 1:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

From the link

â¾Holds moisture in the soil, reducing watering requirements by as much as 35%.
â¾Pumice is inorganic, so it will not decompose or compact over time, meaning it functions continuously and can be recycled and reused.
â¾Does not attract or host fungi, nematodes, or insects.
â¾Pumice rock is pH neutral.

I research further on pumice, and find that particle-size determines its use: smaller-particle pumice is best for water-retention, and larger particle pumice is best for root-aeration.

Thus for my heavy clay with fine-particles like mud, I will opt for red-lava-rocks, which was a big-success in my garden. For potting soil, I will use Dry Stall (pumice or crushed grayish lava) ... which are smaller particles thus hold water better.

Below is an Horticulture Abstract as to the effect of particle-size of pumice in growing cucumber, roses, and lettuce:

"In contrast, lettuce, and to a greater degree roses, exhibited a weaker response to the different pumice grades and growing systems. The two finer pumice grades were characterized by relatively low air-filled porosity, which presumably restricted plant growth and yield as a result of poor root aeration. The coarsest pumice grades were characterized by a steep drop in the water content."

Here is a link that might be useful: Particle size of Pumice and green house growth

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 13:56

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 1:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

My neighbor works for Ball International Nursery. They grew some of Yves Piaget's seeds in a 45% composted pine fines, peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and gypsum. the pot was 1/2 gallon, but the rose had at least a dozen blooms, very impressive.

That's the same way when I bought a gallon-rose from Home Depot. I pulled that rose out, and the soil was coarse pine barks mixed with peat moss, and osmocote fertilizer. There was at least a dozen blooms on that rose bush, way more blooms than leaves.

The growing medium has an effect on flowering. The Russian Grower Gerda who posted the most-blooms roses in HMF told me she applied humus. Pine Fines break down into humus, and roses love that stuff.

In my garden, there's a poor drainage clay spot, so I put tons of fresh pine mulch... the two roses Firefighter and Romantica Sweet Promise, both gave me 80 to 90 blooms as 1st year gallon-own-root. There's another spot which I fixed clay with peatmoss, thinking that would hold more moisture. However, Sonia Rykiel and Crimson Glory did bad, despite tons of rain, like 5 blooms for 1st year. I dug those up and found the soil was rock-hard like cement.

Pine mulch (pH 4.5) works better than peat moss (pH 4) because it's a larger particle, which aerated my heavy clay. Roots need oxygen. Both Sonia Rykiel and Crimson glory were yellowish, due to soil compaction and less oxygen with dense peatmoss glue-up with clay.

In contrast, peat moss worked great for Columbus Rose Park in Ohio ... they fixed their sandy soil with peat moss, with tons of blooms on Graham Thomas & others.

Here's a horticulture research entitled "Rose-cultivation with coco-soil versus pumice". Here's the result:

"As far as flower production was concerned, more flowers were harvested from plants grown on coco-soil than on pumice, independently of the planting density. On the other hand, stem length and weight were the same in rose flowers produced on both substrates. " See link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Comparative study of coco-coil vs. pumice soil

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Mon, Nov 25, 13 at 17:33

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 4:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
strawchicago 5a IL(zone 5a)

I just got done watching a You-Tube on coco-soil compared to regular soil: more flowering on pepper plant, and healthier than the one fertilized with chemicals.

Below is a site that lists the benefits of coco-coir (very good in holding moisture), but expensive. I saw a small pack for $20 at Walmart. Its success with flowering has to do with its being slightly acidic, which offset alkaline tap water, very much like pine bark at pH 4.5 in my pH 7.7 garden. Here's an excerpt from the link below:

"There are many brands and types of coco coir available on the market. We recommend that you use only buffered coir products, as coco coir naturally contains a lot of sodium ions that cling to the coco coir like a magnet. The buffering process involves pre-soaking with a buffering solution high in calcium, which displaces the sodium and balances the naturally occurring potassium. After the soaking period the media is washed with water, which removes the displaced sodium, leaving the calcium in the coir.

10 Benefits of Coco:
â¾Promotes strong root growth and plant vigor.
â¾Coco coir is completely environmentally friendly.
â¾Encourages beneficial bacteria and discourages harmful bacteria.
â¾It is a 100% renewable resource
â¾Coco has an ideal pH range of 6.0-6.8.
â¾Coco coir never shrinks, cracks or produces crust
â¾High lingin and cellulose content
â¾Coco coir is odorless, pleasant to handle, and uniform in composition.
â¾Coir has a high cation exchange, meaning it can store unused minerals to be released to the plant as and when it requires it.
â¾Contains significant amounts of phosphorous (10-50ppm) and potassium (150-450 ppm).

Here is a link that might be useful: Guide to growing in coco coir

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 5:13PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
DA Roses That Look Washed Out
I am wondering why my DA roses Heritage and St. Swithun...
Rose pruning help
Hello all, Thanks for the wonderful forum, I really...
Reblooming, Fragrant, Disease Resistant Climbers?
I'm trying to find this for an arch so 10-12'. I have...
Which Rose Do You Love/Hate?
I would love to hear about roses that drive you crazy...
Leaves on bushes
I have been waiting for the leaves on my rose bushes...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™