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Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

602-334-8014; chemnitz@bigplanet.com




Gardening Links


I was looking for song lyrics, then found a link to one of the key Internet players. He has a series of gardening links at http://www.harley.com/hhies/nav/index-gardening.html.

I think you will find that worthwhile.


My favorite catalog for a gardening education is Wayside Gardens. http://www.waysidegardens.com/ They love to use the official Latin names for plants. That's handy when precision is needed. But every description is a lesson on how to grow various plants. Their roses are quite reasonable in price and the selection is enormous. My wife and mother hide the rose catalogue from me. But I can always get another one from the Internet or order online! "Gee, Gregg. Why did we get a huge box from Wayside? I thought you couldn't find the catalogues, even though we looked all over the house for them." So I say, with all seriousness, "Back-ordered."


Another great rose catalogue is Edmunds at http://www.edmundsroses.com/ The earlier ones were absolutely great. "If you love mildew, grow this rose." Or
"You know what I think about blue roses, but if you have to own one, this is it." Their site is unusually well done, better than Jackson and Perkins. A member and I ordered our initial 30 roses from Edmunds. We had the number up to 60 soon after, some being free replacements. Then I suggested that another member give rose bushes instead of roses for Mother's Day. He sent his mom 7 different fragrant rose bushes. I suggested some flowers at Bethany in New Ulm, and I think they dug in about nine roses. One woman who told me "roses are a pain" bought some roses. We gave her daughter a potted rose for her birthday. Little girls love rose bushes. We gave our nieces rose bushes for their birthdays.


I also order from Jackson and Perkins. Their site is http://www.jackson-perkins.com/ They are the giants in roses in America. I have ordered from other companies and found J and P tags on the bushes. Often the potted roses at the home and garden stores are J and P. They have greatly expanded their offerings in the last few years.


Planter's Panic

I wrote about planter's panic before - that feeling of utter despair after planting seed or seedlings. "It's all ruined. Nothing will grow. Everything is dead. I give up." Sometimes it is based on fact. I learned quickly that my style of watering was truly midwestern and amounted to baptizing the dead. I did not do enough and many plants and seedlings died.


I was sure that many roses did not make it. I even called Wayside to say their free rose had died on me. It sat there doing nothing while its brothers and sisters grew, flourished, bloomed and bloomed again. I thought maybe the corner needed more light. I went out and shopped for some foxglove to replace it. Then, out of its lifeless stem, came the first leaf. It popped.


On the other hand, Madam Isaac Perere confounded me. One plant grew, although slowly at first. The other one has flourishing garlic but nothing else. I was hoping that two large bushes would shade our car this summer. Then I decided they were too close together. Now they won't crowd each other, because one is decomposing slowly. If it pops later, I will confess to yet another case of planter's panic.


I planted six J and P pink simplicity roses around the edge of the pool. Three are flourishing. Three have  green canes but are doing nothing. I treated all of them the same. One got lots of extra water because it was near the sagging pigmy palm. It popped first and grew the most so far.


In any given season, some plants will do remarkably well. Others will fail. Ask around and you will see that your best begonias are matched by everyone else's best begonias. And your failed melons are just like everyone else's. The greatest gardeners are subordinate to the weather God gives them.


Newspaper Bib

I have added a new routine to planting. Today I managed to start planting at noon. It made me more aware of how the plants must feel every afternoon. Some really like sun but also like cool feet. The sidewalk was so hot for my bare feet today that I had to dance around like a Lutheran synod official discussing the latest capitulation to liberals.


So I had some strawberries and tomatoes to plant. I found a strip of sunny garden that supported good weed growth. I hoed the weeds into oblivion and kept the greens for the planting. They can be composted on the spot or added to another heap. I have a huge heap behind the sunflowers. There I toss rotting apples, fruit rinds, and wads of weeds. My mother is the original weed eater, so she enjoys having a handy spot for all of her work in the backyard.


Tomatoes were fairly easy, except for the flimsy cages I bought. I wonder if the people who make or sell them ever try to drive them into the soil. One might as well have one made out of wet noodles. So I dug a little hole and placed one tomato seedling in it. They had been sitting around the yard for a week, so I immersed them for about an hour first, so the plants would take up plenty of water and reduce shock. (Roses can be soaked before planting, too, but too much will hurry the canes without getting the roots going. With roses, the key is protecting bare root plant canes from sun and wind for two weeks.)


After the tomato seedling was in the soil, I made a newspaper bib for it. I took 4 double pages, (I like using the Wall Street Journal, as Martha Stewart would say). Then I tear a hole out of the center. It only needs to be large enough to place over the plant. I lower the bib on top of the plant. The effect is a two page spread, several pages thick. Surrounding the plant.


Newspaper blows fast around here. My first mulching with newspaper blew out from under rocks and all kinds of heavy objects, piling up against the fence. So the bib is held down by soil or manure. I had a pile of aged horse manure, so I used that. I made a pile around the plant, hiding the newspaper completely. At some point I drove the tomato cage into the soil and newspaper. I used to let the plants roam, but I wanted more production this year. An upright plant is easier to harvest and enjoy. However, it is fun to run your hands through a garden, smelling the aroma of tomato plants, and find big ripe tomatoes hidden away.


I use the newspaper bib on roses now, too, because witch grass loves my style of gardening. I get a rose going and witch grass pokes up through the mulch, close to the thorny plant. The newspaper bib keeps weeds away from the main plant altogether. Garlic or chives can be planted next to the rose, inside the collar of the bib. Mulch is put on top of the newspaper bib. Soil or manure first might be good on the bib, to hide the newspaper. If someone is admiring your Peace rose, he does not want to read, "Brazil Near Bankruptcy!" The newspaper will rot into the soil, holding moisture and blocking weeds in the process. Earthworms love newspaper, I learned a long time ago. I left some stacks of newspaper on the ground for a long time. They were thick stacks and turned very hard, but underneath them worms were lined up like airliners at JFK.


I have seen way too much plastic mulch sticking out from under soil. It looks like underwear sticking out of a badly packed suitcase. Plastic mulch ultimately fails. I would not use it under the soil. I have used plastic mulch on top of the soil this year, but only because I did not have enough plant material to mulch the area. Those who consistently use plant material as mulch or compost will see how China has managed to feed itself for centuries. Every vegetable scrap is returned to the garden, to feed the soil creatures, who feed the plants, which feed us.


A member was sitting outside with me and starting laughing. He said, "No one has a backyard like this." You have roses here, weeds, there, corn growing in the grass, plants here and there. Most people have things lined up neatly." I asked, "Isn't this more fun?" He said, "It is!" I converted him from being a rose consumer, sending hordes of them to his mother, to being a rose producer, sending rose bushes to the aforementioned mother.


The pool fence was installed by the members to keep toddlers from wandering into the water. It was a very good idea. One girl at age 8 or so walked up and went right in, while we were standing there at the edge of the pool. Some boys decided to see how well hammers and other objects would float. They get intrigued and forget their limitations.


The pool fence immediately became the hang out for all the entitlement birds, who wait to get hungry there, so they can eat at the feeder again. One worker was shocked when he went outside and 30 or more birds took off at once, all their wings drumming the air together.


The pine tree came down for donating too many needles to the filtration system. A normal pond would rot them away, but a cement pond piles them into the skimmer basket and three other filters. To replace the shade, I planted Don Juan, a wonderful red climbing rose. But I knew that would not create much shade this year. I planted sunflowers, scarlet runner beans, dill, salvia, bee balm, and borage along the fence. Scarlet runner beans and bee balm are humminngbird plants. Now the beans are winding up the metal fence and flowering. Bee balm arrived almost dead on arrival, but I think two plants will make it. Once established, it will spread.


Hummingbirds now visit our yard all the time. They cruise the patio. At first I thought it was the red pepper lights we had strung up. Now I think they are enjoying the fine mist sprayed to keep the area cool. Misting units are very common all over Phoenix. Hummingbirds like to drink and bathe on the fly, so a misting unit or bird bath spritzer is always going to be popular with them.


I always start out with lots of dill seed. I spread it all over. If I don't like it later, I pull it out of certain places. The plant is graceful and seeds itself forever. Garden sun-warmed tomatoes and dill seed are a great treat on a summer day.


Children's Projects

I also ate miniature strawberries today. They fruited before being planted. No one would eat such tiny berries at a restaurant. But our own produce tastes so much better. That's why kids should get into gardening. They learn a lot and get to appreciate healthy food.


Some easy and fun projects for kids to learn about the Creation:

1.     Growing the largest mammoth (Russian, or gray-striped) sunflower.

2.     Planting varieties of sunflowers. Harris Seed sells a variety pack.

3.     Cherry tomatoes. They produce well and are especially sweet.

4.     Radishes. They grow very fast and grow interesting seed pods.

5.     Pole beans growing up a tent structure or another framework, making harvesting easy.

6.     Creating a hummingbird or butterfly garden.

7.     Establishing a(n) herb garden. Most herbs are medicinal weeds, easy to grow: mint, borage, comfrey, mullein, dandelion, garlic, rugosa roses, basil, and so forth.

8.     Learning the companion plants. This is more advanced, but young children can learn some of it. Roses and garlic. Grass and dandelions. Carrots and tomatoes. Asparagus and tomatoes. Basil and tomatoes. They all learn the related plants, such as all the nightshades: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, deadly nightshade, woody nightshade, jimson weed.