Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer around the house

I had last Friday off, as the first compressed workweek pay period of the summer schedule, and it was glorious. I mean, I didn't do anything much--slept a little later, did some errands, lay around--but it was so nice and summery. I love having every other Friday off in the summer.

Though, it's so hot in our house during the summer, and that makes the whole season a little less enjoyable. We dealt with it for one summer but this year it's barely June and we are already both reaching our breaking point, so we are researching swamp coolers and hopefully when Torsten gets his first client we will be able to spend the money to install one. Apparently they are much cheaper than air conditioning (can be purchased and installed for well under $1000), and much more energy-efficient as well. So, we'll see. But that is my big dream for this year. And please please please let Torsten make a sale soon, lest we swelter to death in our sleep.

Also, the other thing about our house in summer is that our rosebushes are blooming. We have two of them, in our front yard, and they have lovely dark pink roses, but I am not a gardener and certainly not a rose gardener, and neither is Torsten, so we have never done anything to them. No pruning, fertilizing, nothing. And as a result, last year the bushes bloomed for about two days and then all the flowers died and the bushes went back to being ugly. And I can only assume that we are on track for a similar situation this year. And I don't know how to prevent it.

Gardening people, is there a way to prevent this? That doesn't involve tons of hard labor? Because while I'd like the roses to last longer than two days, I'm not so invested in their success that I am willing to prick myself with thorns and deal with Japanese beetles (though, I don't think we have those in Denver, thank god) and so forth to make it happen. I'm looking for quick and easy solutions, here.

Oh, and speaking of gardening, we were thinking of planting some vegetables. Specifically, maybe some summer squash, and also maybe one of those upside down hanging tomato plants? I really don't know. We are not the gardening types and I hear squash grows like a weed, so it sounded like a good starter plant for us. But, is it TOO much like a weed, as in, will it take over the whole yard? And is it too late to plant a garden for this year? And if we do plant a garden and it's not too late, what else should we plant that is relatively simple? What about herbs? If we plant basil will it survive or will the birds/squirrels/whatever eat it all?

Garden-type people, I need your help!


  1. The squirrels left my herbs alone but they did eat the collards and strawberries. You should be fine with herbs, just do some research or ask your local nursery where they would recommend planting them. Our mint in the Northeast does great with some shade. The basil, thyme and oregano I have like it sunny.

    I recommend you talk to someone at a nursery regarding rose care in Colorado. My mom used to feed and water her roses, in a way I'm sure was not organic. But she was also loopy about them. You would probably be fine with a pruning once a year and just giving them some sprinkle type of fertilizer, but I've never really tried roses here. Good luck!

    Also, you should be fine with squash. It won't try and take over your garden just the surrounding plants, but it only lasts the year.

  2. 1) I'm so jealous of your compressed work week.

    2) We have one rose bush, my MIL prunes it every spring when she realizes I have no idea what I'm doing and does her best not to give me disapproving glares. But here's what I've learned watching her: Roses need energy to continue to grow and bloom, so cut off the blooms as they reach their peak and bring them inside for flowers, which should allow the plant to put energy to new blooms. There's a proper place to cut off blooms on rose bushes, but I don't remember - I think it's right above or below the first 5 leaf formation, but google will remember. Cut off old growth that's obviously dead (by now it should be greener if it's alive).

    3) I'm no help at all on vegetables.

  3. Do you really want to plant an edible garden or are you doing it because it seems like the right thing to do? In our building, we went to the local garden center and talked to them about low-maintenance options for our garden. It really depends from one region to the next what you can and should plant. You want to pick something that you'll be successful in growing, so you continue to want to do it more in the future. I say, start small and grow into the house and garden with time!

  4. Starting today, we work four 9 hour days and work four hours on Friday. So I get off every Friday at noon!

    You have to cut the blooms or they will all die. Everyday, cut off a few blooms before they get too big and give them away.

  5. I do all my gardening in pots (dont like to weed stuff). I grow cherry tomatoes which do very well with my level of neglect, spinach for salads (was ready to begin harvesting two weeks after planting!)and lettuces that you can pull individual leaves off.

    My rose gets pruned harshly once a year and I cut off all dead heads as they arise to encourage more blooms. I dont fertalise it but I probably should.

  6. i am.. um.. not a gardener. i imagine the climate is different out there, but i know my mom plants her garden in the spring once the risk of frost is minimal, so her stuff is starting to produce right about now. i imagine the frost date in CO is later, though?

  7. I know you read my post a few months ago about missing my grandfather because I loved to garden with him. He was well-known for his roses. You have to cut of the blossoms when they start to lose the petals, otherwise the plant is expending too much energy feeding the dying blossoms. Around here, roses bloom for at least 2 months continuously.

    If you plant herbs, AVOID MINT! The darn plant is a weed and takes over everything. I read about it jumping pots and thought the lady was crazy. Then my planter of mint grew "arms" that were over a foot outside of the pot. It was like Little Shop of Horrors!

    Does Denver have a problem with mold? Here in Portland they say no swamp coolers because they add moisture to the air and can cause mold issues. Maybe a portable AC unit would be helpful for you guys?

  8. Our friends in Denver have a swamp cooler and they work great.

    I don't know anything about roses- sorry!

    As far as gardens, we started off with tomato plants last year and didn't have a great year because it rained too much for the plants to be happy. However, you won't have that problem in Denver, so that is a good one to start with. Fresh tomatoes are yummy (get heirloom plants).

    Squash plants TAKE OVER. We were instructed to plant them 5 feet apart from each other and a scant month later, we now know why!!! I should have pictures soon, but they are HUGE. However, they don't take over like a weed, they just grow out a lot (does that make sense?).

    Herbs are very easy. You can plant them in the ground, or if you want them for the winter time to put in meals, you can plant them in pots and bring them inside before it gets too cold. VERY simple to take care of. We use our herbs all the time.

  9. These are just my personal experiences and I am not an expert, but I would get some fish emulsion fertilizer for your roses. They will thank you! It is organic and can be smelly, though.

    I've never had any trouble with basil getting eaten by anything. Throw some seeds in the ground and dump fish emulsion on them and they will take off, most likely.

    And if you can get squash to take over your yard, let me know your secret. It can get big, but not "Feed Me, Seymor" unmanagable. :)

  10. No garden (or even backyard) here so I'm very out of practice. Always did want to try veggies in pots but our cat is far too naughty to let us try that. Maybe when we go home. Good luck though! I think it's lovely that you have the rose bushes too. Seems very cozy and lovely.

    As someone who HATES heat, I'll be crossing my fingers you guys have some relief soon. There is no air in our flat here, so I quite literally carry our stand alone fan with me from room to room. Lucky we only have two rooms, hehe. :)

  11. Basil is super easy to grow in backyard containers. And the critters don't seem interested in it. Mint is even easier--you can't kill that stuff, and it spreads.

  12. We are in very different areas (I'm in AL) so i'm not sure about there - but it's too late to plant much here. Most things here need to be planted in march i think? My husband does most of the gardening...

  13. Squash is a great starter vegetable. They grow quickly and produce A LOT of fruit. Just make sure you pick them frequently, even if they're not full grown. And you can actually eat the small fruits attached to the blossoms - they're great in salads or on their own.

    If you do tomatoes, you'll want to get them soon, especially if you want to start from seed. But you've still got time if you just get the little starter plants.

    Both the squash and tomatoes need a lot of sun and a lot of water, but not TOO much water or their roots will rot.

    As for the roses, you'll want to trim the plants back quite a bit each year (get some good, thick gardening gloves) and feed them with food specifically for roses.

  14. Don't know what the climate is like there, but evaporative coolers work really well in areas with dry heat. If it is humid there, however, they just don't work properly.

  15. For landscaping, we mostly plant perennials, and the only "knowledge" we use is what kind of sun requirements they need. I know nothing about roses! Maybe look into some rose bush fertilizer?

    We don't have a vegetable garden, but we have several pots on our sunny back stoop: we grow basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, tomatoes, and peppers. The basil, mint, and cilantro do especially well grown this way; the others do fine. I think an herb garden is a great place to start because most herbs can be harvested all season, so it's very satisfying...