Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not So Rosy Roses

We have seven rose bushes. They are always a work in progress. I don’t know whether it is because my thumb never turned green from those childhood years on the Indiana farm, seven is an unlucky number, or our soil sucks.

I’m going with the soil.

I’d transplant them but there really isn’t another appropriate space on our small hillside parcel. PJ has become a rose bush groupie so I toil regularly with all manner of nurturing. She can be such a nudge.

At dinner the other night with friends whose green thumbs stick out like neon, they mentioned the magic word—manure.

Manure and I go way back. That is where I attained my spreading-manure skills. It took me several years to wash it off me when I left that farm. I’m pretty sure that is why I was so dating-challenged.

It seems an anathema that manure and sweet smelling roses would be a match, but apparently manure qualifies as aromatherapy for rose bushes. Still, I worried that using it would bring petitions from the neighborhood.

Yesterday, while the soil was still moist from last week’s El Nino temper tantrums, I mulched* the manure in and around the rose bushes. I dug out enough dirt so I could bury most of the manure and minimize the stench. I’ll get back to you on that.

If this doesn’t work I’m going to gird them with sand bags. I try to stay one step ahead of PJ. See previous two posts.

While I was at it I replanted a stunted lemon tree to a more soil-friendly area, and dug out a sickly shrub near out front door and replaced it with a dwarf palm. There was enough manure left over to treat (manure is a treat?) our lime tree and three under-performing bougainvilleas.

When I planted our lime tree several years ago I did not know they had such prickly personalities. Anytime I get within five feet it draws blood from somewhere on my body, even if wearing gloves. Yesterday it was my torso.

I burnt the manure-stained clothes.

*Yes I know; I made a verb out of a noun. I’ll do anything for alliteration.

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