Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Chow Nation is quite inspired by Gardener Girl's Garden 101 over at her place. They called me out to Club Chow, where we composed our own Garden 101. It's going to be the best year yet at Bellemaison.

We are a coffee grounds-banana peel-epsom salt operation here. We plant with 'em; we amend the soil with 'em; we swear by 'em. Potassium, rich, leathery foliage and sturdy new growth. Yum.

We don't do chemicals here. We use steer manure and peat moss. But I know I mentioned that now peat moss is ecologically irresponsible. Good lord, what are we ever gonna do without peat moss? We bath most everything regularly; if the pesty bugs remain, we wash them with soap water. We farm lady bugs who are ravenous and will eat the nasties right up. We plant companions in an effort to encourage natural predators, as we use the food chain to help Bellemaison flourish. We love the birds and the bees and the birds and do whatever we can to maintain a healthy environment for them and for the plants. No chemicals.

We are fearsome deadheaders, pruners, shovel pruners. No weak links to attract pests. We mulch up. Keep an eye on the water supply, although we just don't ever have water issues here at Bellemaion.

We brew alfalfa tea for the roses. They love it. We fertilize them every two weeks with a weak solution of fish oil fertilizer. They will be dressed in two weeks with coffee grounds, steer, and peat. They got epsom salts today. They will get more June 1. Again August 15. And I will water and fertilize the hell out of them. But I will stop all fertilizer and soil amendments September 1 but continue to water and in fact, begin to deep water them. In return, they will produce prodigious armsful of fragrant pink, yellow, white, orange, purple and red roses until October 15. sigh.

This year I will hard prune the rhoddies after the 4th of July in an effort to talk some sense into them. The grow thing they do has to get some order and purpose to it! god! Next weekend, I will dress the hydrangeas with ammonium sulfate to make the blues bluer. mmmmm.

I have bird baths and water features literally everywhere in Bellemaison. Everyone loves 'em. They need 'em too. I also have houses every place I can put a house. For the bats, the butterflies and all the birds.

I'll feed those razorbacks that some people call squirrels. Maybe they'll leave the vegetables and everything else alone?

We do a few annuals and lots of perennials and bet the farm on flowering shrubs. I think one of the most admirable professions in all of the world is Head Gardener in a garden anywhere in the United Kingdom.

Next up: favorite roses.

The 'Kan EWA


MarmiteToasty said...

Beautiful (((JBelle)))) well envious of your garden lol..... we have Janet this year to keep the slugs at bay :) that will please Wendy and Shark that we will no longer need to stamp on them and shoot them out of their skins..... cant put slug pellets down now incase Janet eats them.....

Your garden is beautiful JBelle, as are you.........

If you become head gardener can I be assistant :)


Anonymous said...

Lovely posting, dear Jbelle.

The love and effort you invest in the garden are reflected in its colourful blooms and joyous fertility.

Those Rhoddies! Will they ever listen to reason? :)

Bon dimanche.

Anonymous said...

In England, our gardener always came to work wearing a coat and tie. And they remained on during his work day. And work he did! And the garden responded to his efforts.

In NH, I always fed the critters, including ground hogs. And I never had a problem with the ground hogs or squirrels eating my garden. The chipmunks were a different story. Apparently they love garlic. I planted some wonderful garlic from Burpee. One day checking on my nascent garlic breaking through the soil, with amazement I watched the same buds disappear downwards. Every single one of them Schloup, schloup, down they went. Must have been pasta night in chipmunk land.

Carla said...

Beautiful garden you have there...I have quite a ways to go to whip mine into shape.

toadman said...

Again, you'll have to watch Angela if we ever visit your garden. She'll be stealing things....I will too...

MarmiteToasty said...

Toad - I confess to be a plant nicker :) - when me and me maties come back from the garden centre me pockets are overflowing with cuttings lol............ sorry did I say cuttings....... I mean bits I picked up off the floor lol....... :)


Anonymous said...

Omnipotent, omnipresent never ends. Always a fine job in every sphere. A+ to my home girl, I mean mama.



InlandEmpireGirl said...

I can tell we have many philosophies the same when it comes to gardening. We tried using fish fertilizer, but the dogs and cats went nuts digging wherever we put it. Maybe we need to dilute it more. Thanks for the mention of my blog on your blog. Happy Sunday and Earth Day. I am glad you keep the balance of healthy gardening going in your corner of the world.

JBelle said...

hello and Happy Sunday Night,

We had another lovely fire in the firepit tonight and drank Red Delicious wine from Chelan. Such a nice way to end the weekend.

Mel, slug pellets, as you know, are highly toxic. Because we always have had 1001 dogs and cats at Bellemaison, we have never used them. I use saucers of beer for the slugs and just so Wendy and The Shark are completely clear on this, emptying the slug saucers is nasty business. Rather change a diaper, myself.

Dear, dear Winters. My day is always graced when you appear on the path. Look for yourself in the favorite rose post.

I KNOW! A proper Head Gardener would never remove his tie to work. Never. I do have a problem with everybody eating everything around here. But the only real solutions lie in making sure everybody gets enough of the right things to eat so they leave my flowers and vegetables alone. I could never grow zucchini. I couldn't understand how I could get it to set blooms, set fruit and then...the little thumbs of squash would disappear somehow. I was always so busy with a nasty swarm of children that seemed to be forever hanging around around here that I didn't, until about 5 years ago, launch search and recovery for my zucchini. I mean, an idiot can grow zucchini. After examing the stems over a period, I decided somebody was eating the tender, baby zucchinis. Finally, one night in the moonlight I caught the culprit red handed. Know who it was? Bob Barker, the cocker-springer Main Dog. I'd let him about one last night before bed and when the Chows were in their condos snoring away, he's go over to Little Yakima and eat the zucchinis. Figured out later that he ate the strawberries, too.

Carla, the garden is a real place of restoration for more than just a few. I'll blog more about it and how it came to be. Sometimes I wake up in the summer and stand at the window and blink, blink, blink. I can't believe I live here because it is sooo pretty.

Toad, you would actually steal things from me? naw. NAW! right?

Mel, cuttings are a problem. A little dodgey but yet--why don't they just sell cutting for a few bits and then everyone would be happy?

Wendolina J, You always see the very best in me. sigh. I wish I was the person Wendy thinks I am!

Hi there Lake Girl, Fish Oil is a big problem. The Chows go absolutely crazy and if I somehow forget and leave the bottle in Club Chow, forget about it. They play with it until they get it open, then roll in it, feast on it, delight in it. sigh. gross. oh and if I leave a watering can full of it they drink it until it's gone. true. but the roses like it too. :)

Anonymous said...

jbelle, thanks for missing me. It is lovely to be wanted. I use beer for slugs. Look at it this way, they died happy. However, I don't allow them to indulge in my Carlsberg. They get the cheap stuff. :-) Disposing of them does give new meaning to gross! Reminds me of "the mice". One winter night, after being in the hospital, I discovered the outake line from my humidifier had frozen. Being in no condition to go outside and thaw it, I pulled a large trash bin over to the basement wall and placed the hose in that. Later, after thawing, I discovered that the bin was too heavy for me to move and so it remained until spring. Spring arrived and in checking the bin, I found half a dozen dead mice floating on the surface. You think slugs are bad! I had to scoop them out with an old saucepan and take them to the woods bordering the property. Now these mice were really dead. Still, I carried them , saying eeeouwwwww repeatedly. As if they were all named Lazarus and would suddenly leap from that pan and wreak revenge. Perhaps eeeouwwww is a universal mantra!

Carla said...

JBelle, I totally understand. I'd be pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming if I saw those beautiful flowers every morning during the summer. My father has quite a green thumb so it's always a real treat for me to house sit when my parents are away. Of course I also raid their vegetable garden.