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Pumpkins and corn stalks

November 1, 2012
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaeghere , Marshall Independent

The pumpkins were carved this last week, the pumpkin seeds were roasted and the last of the potatoes left the garden. The rain we had, a little more than 2 inches, hardly made a dent in the soil and the potatoes were still sitting in dry soil. We finally found the long lost row of red potatoes that we had planted last spring and they were huge.

The final decree on using cornstalks for weed control and as it happened this year, moisture control is in. It was a success.

The one problem most gardeners who have a small garden might have is I can easily see that trying to run a regular garden tiller through corn stalks would be a lot of work - maybe more then what the control on weeds would be. Since I have a large vegetable garden, my husband runs the disk through the garden, and this issue is a non-issue in our garden. There were some tough times trying to move enough of the corn stalks around to dig potatoes, and I also lost where the rows started and ended.

These things are merely a small part of trying out something new. The other issue we had this year that was more difficult than the corn stalks is that we allowed many free-roaming gourds run through the potato bed, which caused a lot of extra work since it seemed that just about anything that was growing on a vine had a very tough vine this year. The boys worked diligently to move the vines out of the way and to also make sure this year that they picked up any gourds, squash or pumpkin vines plus the fruit/or vegetables still yet attached to the same vines.

This way we will avoid having some of these problems again next year.

We also tried our hand at mulching the green bean rows and tomato plant rows with straw. This worked pretty well, with some grass breaking through toward the end of the growing season. This also helped to keep in the moisture around those plants. We certainly had our share of green beans with just one week that they stopped producing during the dry weather.

We had started to water, which was probably only four times this year, and this helped to snap the green beans back into producing once again. We also tried using old hay, or the part of the bales that our sheep would not eat, on our sweet corn to help with weeds and moisture. This, too, worked pretty well but eventually the foxtail grass took hold of the area and we were left to once again, start pulling weeds. We made it though, about halfway through the growing season which isn't too bad.

It is still hard to believe that I actually know of some people who enjoy pulling weeds. They are a much hardier person then I will ever be!

Now is the time to start working on mulching those strawberry patches and to start using the Minnesota tip method of saving tender roses for the winter. This year I have three of my son's roses that he picked out at growing centers this summer. I cut them back about half way, dig them up or loosen the soil around their roots, dig a little trench alongside of where they are planted and tip them over into the trench. I cover them with some soil and mulch and leave them alone until next spring.

I wait until the danger of frost is just about over and tip them back up. They are ready to go. Yes, they might look a little funny for about a week, but then they take off and go back to producing beautiful flowers for another season. Generally, I chose only Canadian roses so I don't have to do this but for a budding gardener, I willing to let the kids try something new every year to keep them interested in the gardens. They do seem to be able to raise some very beautiful roses each year.

They overwinter very well doing this. And since, most of the tender roses can be expensive it is better to have a higher chance of saving them from year to year then trying to purchase them every year.

For more on gardening you can reach me at



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