My left knee hurts. My lower back is sore. I've got a pain in my right bicep. My neck is stiff. My feet are killing me.
Ah -- the JOYS of GARDENING!!!
A very Happy New Year to all -- and I hope you enjoyed the Eve of 2010 as much as Venus and I did. I'm sad to report that four to five bottles of bubbly "gave up the ghost" last night. It's really quite amazing that I feel this good -- but I do.
I should drink champagne more often! Perhaps it should be a New Year's Resolution? Hey -- that's one resolution that I can KEEP!
The author of the Sacramento Vegetable Gardening Blog (yours truly) spent a good chunk of the last day of 2009 preparing for the Year that is 2010. The time had come. The numerous rose bushes populating the Back 40 of our North Natomas compound had gone into a deep slumber with the freezing nights that graced our area last month.
The photo to your right? Ladies and Gents -- that's a whack job -- and the remains of last year's rose bushes. What do roses have to do with vegetable gardening? Why are you getting so technical on me? They're pretty. I like giving the wife roses. Is that enough?
Let's just say the rosebushes "got a haircut."
Despite the workout -- I do look forward to this job. It brings us one step forward to the season that is SPRING! And spring is probably my most favorite of all seasons -- followed closely by summer. I look at it this way: you're not cutting back last year's growth. No, no -- not at all. You're preparing for spring.
Is cutting back rose bushes hard? Not really -- but it can be if you're looking for that "perfect cut." There are many schools of thought when it comes to the job of pruning a rosebush. Some well-respected Rosarians (doncha just love those fancy names?) subscribe to the theory of cutting a rosebush back to the nub. Others -- meanwhile -- reccommend that you prune the bushes back to four or five of the strongest "canes."
I'm not an expert at this -- not by any stretch of the imagination -- but I do have some "before" and "after" photos to show you. That rosebush to your left? That is the Queen Elizabeth Grandiflora -- one of my absolute favorites. Grandiflora roses are a cross between the highly popular Hybrid Tea (long-stemmed single roses) and Floribunda roses. That's about all I know on that subject -- other than they look pretty and are good for cutting!
By the way -- if you want the "expert" take on pruning rosebushes -- I highly reccommend you click on this rosebush pruning tutorial offered up by Farmer Fred Hoffman. At one time -- I followed that guide to the absolute letter. But -- after $15,000 worth of back surgery -- well -- there are some things that Bill Bird just will no longer do.
Hence the long-handled loppers in the photo at the top of the page. That's really not the ideal tool for this job -- but it does spare ye olde back from a lot of stress. And -- after a full year of back agony pre-surgery -- well -- I'm not too interested in repeating the experience. Losing the spare tire from around my belly might help too -- and would make another great New Year's Resolution. But -- I've done this before -- and I've broken it with Exlax-like regularity.
As promised -- here is the "after" photo to your right. And despite that whack job -- there's still one more "unfinished" job to take care of. See those leaves around the whack job? Yeah -- I've got to get those out too. Call it another job for another day. Because -- at this very moment -- the first day of 2010 in North Natomas -- it's raining like nobody's business.
Nothing like a good rainstorm to foil a day of gardening adventures. I think I'll watch the Rose Bowl instead.
And now -- for the little hidden secret about rose care. Do roses really need to be pruned back year after year? The answer is no. They come back just fine on their own. It's tough to kill a rosebush. I know -- because I've tried. I've even managed to hit some rosebushes with a shot or three of Roundup. Did they die? A rosebush? Of course not! They weren't all that happy with the mistreatment of course (a mistake on my part -- believe me). But your standard rosebush can take the best product that Monsanto can throw at them -- and come out smelling like a -- you know -- a rose.
So -- while you really DON'T need to prune -- it is true that roses look much better if you DO PRUNE. Cutting back a standard rosebush to the strongest of canes pretty much guarantees a healthy rosebush in the spring. Of course -- fertilizer and water also play key roles in that health. You just can't prune and forget.
The reward for pruning? If there is such a thing -- it would have to be vases full of cut roses and other flowers throughout the spring and summer months. Sure -- I can present my wonderful wife with a vase arrangement for only $60 from a nearby florist. But -- after she scolds me for wasting money that can be better spent on cheap gin (it comes in a plastic bottle) -- you begin to realize that there is a better way of impressing the love in your life.
A free arrangement of flowers and roses that you grew on your own? Now that's one way to impress the little lady. And a case of cheap gin doesn't hurt either.