Monday, March 7, 2016

Refreshing Roses

Norma Boeckler, our artist-in-residence, wrote me a thank-you for showing how to refresh roses, in another post, so I am repeating the advice.

The moment roses and other flowers are cut, the stems begin drawing up air instead of water. To make cut flowers last longer, cut several inches from the bottom of the stems, just before placing them in fresh water in a clean vase.

Cut flowers can be put into a dishpan of clean water to hydrate them, or floated in a tub. I would do this before cutting the stems and placing them in the vase. I became an immersionist when soaking rather dry bare-root roses before planting. I also heavily pruned them upon planting them. They began growing at once and bloomed quickly.

Soaking Because
This is why soaking works. The stems and leaves take up water. When I water rose bushes outside, it is often through a soaker hose at the base. However, I still spray them down completely, to hydrate the stems and leaves. Plants are like people, as one book argued. If you feel great after a shower, so do they. The leaves and stems take up water fast, so they have a crisp look and grow better. Rose bushes are like sponges in taking up water, and they like to have their pores clean rather than dusty.

Change the Water Daily and
The decomposing process begins the moment the stems touch the water in the vase. If you looked at the water in a microscope, a lot of swimming little creatures would entertain you. Given a few days, that mildewing water will smell like death. God is reducing the death plant into new chemicals for the soil.

For maximum benefit and long-lasting cut flowers, change the water daily and make sure the vase is cleaned out thoroughly. I am much more a fan of clean water and vases than magical chemicals added.

Refresh the Flowers Again Each Day
The way to make the flowers stay fresh is to soak them again each day and pour water into the blooms. Simply spraying the flowers will help too. A very low water pressure will avoid the sink hose giving the budding a florist a free shower.

Roses have so many petals now that the bloom will cup the water and hold it in place for more hydration.

Trained, experienced, certified in Linux,
and confident in all matters rosarian.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Butler's Pantry

Zoning or facing the shelves will make them
far more useful.

When we move I hoped to make use of the old library shelves, which lined the library of our home in Phoenix.

We made the winter a time of giving away anything useful and hauling away the rest. The last of the books were just mailed a short time ago. The Michigander said, "Throw away anything still in a box after one year." We gave away items, even a large table, all greatly appreciated.

The back wall of the Great Room (formerly - garage) was already lined with matching shelves. We just had to fix a few and clean them up.

These shelves are are now the Butler's Pantry. Tools and miscellany are banned from this area. Those items belong in the last third of the Great Room, near the Festival Door (garage door).

When we enter the Great Room, the Butler's Pantry is on the left, well lit from a new LED light donated by our gracious landlord.

The laundry area is on the right. Part of our renovation included adding framed photos where we had space.

The idea of the pantry holds food and supplies ahead so we do not run out of frequently used items.
In a small kitchen, extra supplies clog the cupboards so much that the space becomes useless.

We got used to drinking Sam's Club water, so I have four cases ahead. Thanks to the relative cool of the Great Room floor, they are always cool. If we have a big storm, fresh water is handy. Besides that, anyone working here gets water, and everyone loves free access to it. When our helper's children worked in the yard (for wages) they happily took home their water bottles.

We promote the idea of pure water being the best and most refreshing drink. Colas and juices create their own habits, so we end up buying more and drinking more - and paying more. When I worked at Walmart I was always stunned by the families hauling away cases of Gatorade. The plastic casing for Gatorade is made to sling the bottles on the shopping cart. I told my co-workers the mere thought of it gave me acid reflux. The labels of all the flavors made me laugh. And we had variations on the same, such as flavored carbonated water with fakey sucralose, in another area. Or - flavored and carbonated with no sweetener in a third area, fairly good but way overpriced.

When I buy things we need--since I am the main buyer--I put extras in the Butler's Pantry each time. Also, we now know how much we have ahead in some areas. For a time I was getting paper towels each time, thinking maybe we needed more. We had 3 cases at one point. Now the paper area is in one place and easily audited before the next trip.

When we shop together, we use separate carts. The cashiers are often confused. "Are you together?" 46 years - Mrs. Ichabod says. "Please don't complain in public," I respond. Sometimes we double up on the same thing, so that goes in the pantry.

I have a post in mind about cleaning tips. I was the store's self-appointing cleaning expert. That was as much fun as working in baking supplies and condiments.

Roses Like To Be Trimmed and Watered - More Than Most People Allow

John Paul II -
he got an honorary degree at Notre Dame,
so we are alumni.

I picked up some groceries at Walmart and saw cut roses for $5. Daisies for $5 or roses? - Not a tough decision. I looked over the various roses and pulled out some that looked fairly good. Retail roses do not last long in the vase, so I wanted the ones that looked fresh. I had a plan.

Roses are considered a thorn bush, but I think of them as sponges. Cutting roses after a long rainstorm is difficult, if the shears are not sharp and scissor-like, (The anvil cutting shears tend to crush rather than cut. They are better for small branches and tough plastic packages.)

I brought the roses home, got out the shears, and cut inches of stem away. The stems draw up air rather than water when going through the trauma of retail, from packaging to bringing them home. Cutting a few inches off is a good start.

I also cleaned the vase, which reeked of rot and mildew. I hear various tips about cut flowers. Changing the water daily makes them last longer, but even then, the forces of decomposition fire up and slimy mildew forms inside the vase. Scrub, scrub, scrub, detergent, rinse, scrub, scrub, rinse, rinse.

I paid $5 each for two Paradise roses.
Roses around a maple trees are far more attractive
than weeds and maple tree suckers.

Key Step
I use the sink sprayer and sprayed the roses all over, stems, blossoms, leaves, I would toss a bunch in a tub of cold water if they looked like they needed it. They looked completely refreshed when I put them in fresh water in a clean vase. Mrs. Ichabod loved them. I will repeat the fresh water and the cold shower today and Sunday morning.

Outdoor Roses
Our helper and I transplanted 8 roses from the front and backyard. The next step after planing a group,  is to water them thoroughly and prune them. Watering washes the soil down among the roots to remove air spaces. It gives the roots a start, because the new root growth will stabilize the plant and feed it. Pruning makes the roots grow even faster, even when the established plant seems unharmed by digging and replanting.

By watering I mean spraying all the upper parts of the roses so they get a real shower for their branches, not just water for their roots. I will repeat that on the second and third days too. Our helper did the first watering while I did another chore. I said, "Do not spare the horses."

A FB friend and I were discussing  bare root roses versus potted ones. I like to order bare root ones because I can choose exactly which ones I want. But potted ones are just as good, in spite of what rose snobs say. The three steps to have great roses are:

  1. Prune
  2. Water
  3. Mulch.
Our 8 KnockOut roses became a neighborhood  wonder last year. They were all potted, dug into holes in the lawn, then mulched, watered, and pruned. Every time they reached 6 feet tall, they were pruned to 3 feet tall. We had dry spells so I gave them cold showers with the hose on the waterboarding setting. That dislodges dirt and loose flowers that need pruning anyway.

Veteran's Honor simply glows red
in the garden. The cut roses are splendid
and fragrant in the vase.

Bare Root Rain Soaker
We have added a memorial row for the main rose garden, with three more bushes planned, perhaps two more in the maple tree rose garden.

When the bare root roses come, I will soak them first in rainwater. I used to be skeptical about the soak, but I saw the value when I planted 20 at once last year. I had the rain barrels full of water and needed to open packages while planting and digging. I felt like the sorcerer's apprentice the rest of the afternoon, with dreams of every rose I wanted planted turning into a nightmare of digging, soaking, pruning, sorting, watering, measuring. 

The roses took off beautifully, better than I ever saw with previous efforts. 

If rainwater is not available, the other solution is gray-water (recycled in some homes from the wassh water) or tapwater left in the barrel at least one day. Chlorine evaporates out of city water, and chlorine is hard on plants. For the best results, use rainwater first, gray-water second, and soaker hose when there is no other way.

Mr. Lincoln has long, long legs,
magic beanstalk growth, fragrance,
and low cost.