Monday, June 8, 2009


They said it couldn't be done but yours' truly has just shot that theory to hell. About ten years ago we, or I should say I, decided that we need gardens. Before we started, careful consideration was given to garden size and shape, the mature size of the plants, which plants would tolerate our poor soil conditions and which plants would be hardy for our zone five climate. Water requirements were also important to me, not so much for water reduction as for energy conservation...mine.

I wanted roses, lots and lots of roses. Not the hoity-toity hybrid varieties, but shrub roses that would require little effort on my part. After being reassured by the gardening specialist "You can't kill these, You can go over them with a lawn mower and they will come back," I chose several Rugosa and Explorer varieties and went happily on my way confident that I would succeed. After all, what damage could a few misplaced pruning cuts do compared to a mower's blade.

Over the years we added many more, eventually ending up with a total of 36 shrub roses of various sizes and colors. Over all they have done quite well until this past year. Although they haven’t fallen prey to a mower’s blade, they have suffered from years of neglect. I have some major kissing-up to do. Although hardy, I can no longer expect them to survive, let alone flourish, in our poor clay soil. I have lost three this year and some of the others are looking very tired. I have a lot of work ahead of me.

1. We have been working hard all week spreading four half ton truck loads of mushroom compost over all my flower beds.
2. I sprinkled ¼ cup Epsom Salt around the base of each rose bush.
3. I have spread granular fertilizer over my beds.
4. I have been brewing a special compost tea to pamper my roses. I have read that roses like banana peel but since I didn’t want to attract four legged critters I decided to try compost tea. Instead of throwing our waste into our back yard composter, I put them directly into the freezer until I have enough to brew a large stock pot of tea. This doesn’t take long as we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables plus my daycare kiddies go through a tremendous amount of apples and bananas in a week.

(The first time I made this I tried to pass it off on my husband as “recession soup” but he wasn’t buying it.)

Throw all your veggie and fruit scraps (and don’t forget to add your old tea bags) into a large pot and add water to cover.
Bring to a boil and simmer for half an hour.
Let sit over night.
Strain the liquids into a bucket. Use a small plate to press down on the solids to expel as much tea as possible. Add enough water to the bucket to fill it up and pour around the base of your roses. Throw the solids into your compost pile.

Here’s hoping my roses are forgiving.


  1. Great recipe! We had a worm composter last year and they made me lovely tea but, alas, they didn't survive the winter and need to be replaced...I like this as an alternative until they can get working again.

  2. "recession soup" LOL

    So what do the epsom salts do?
    I'll have to try the compost tea.

  3. The piccy looks GREAT on your sidebar!! I am forever indebted to you for the inspiration...

    Worm composting is a FAB idea..and so much fun can, theoretically, do it indoors but we had rather a problem with these little fly things so my wormy friends had to move outside..thus, the winter freeze. EEK!

    You can see the works in progress on our photo blog....

    and here...the fruits of their labours...

    Deliciously lovely stuff...