Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Gift to You - The Swiss Army Knife Approach

It's quite possible you already have this gift but I'm hoping you won't mind receiving it twice. My gift this week is encouragement, resourcefulness, and tenacity. They are my gardening Swiss army knife and are often the most useful tools I have. I've used it successfully to help a mostly happy but slightly miserable Roguchi clematis.

Roguchi is an extremely easy clematis to grow. It will tolerate a bit of shade and likes to be pruned to the ground every spring.

Without something to climb on, it will just sprawl along the ground.

It grows between a massive Rose of Sharon and the metal railing to our basement.

Although it has been growing happily, the spot where I planted the Roguchi isn't perfect. It needed more support than the metal railing provided and had collapsed onto the patio, suffocating the plants growing nearby. An enormous Rose of Sharon had siphoned off all nearby water leaving the surrounding soil parched and constant thirst had left it stressed and subsceptible to mildew. While it was gorgeous in spring and fall, I often ended up cutting it back completely during the summer to rejuvenate it. Moving it simply wasn't an option. There was no where else to put it.

Encouragement: If the plant was happier than it was miserable, the problem could be resolved.

Resourcefulness: How could I solve this problem cheaply?

Tenacity: I refuse to let this plant die or look bad simply because I couldn't figure out a way to make it happier.

Dry soil: I wrapped a 10 foot soaker hose around its base to allow me to water it deeply once a week and marked the end of the hose with a bird hose guide I bought at Lowe's.

If I don't mark my soaker hoses with hose guides, I forget where the ends are.

Soaker hoses come with a little blue pressure moderator at the end. I always take it out and just use the spigot on the hose to determine how much pressure I want to use.

Floppy stems: I covered the railing with black bird netting and tied the netting to the railing using twine. Twist ties off a bag of bread work well, too. I also surrounded the stems with green plant supports to encourage the clematis to grow upright instead of sideways.

These green supports connect to form any shape you need. They are great for any plant that tends to be floppy.

As pathetic as this looks in the winter, it's invisible in the summer when it's covered with the clematis.

Mildew: I added homemade worm compost, which has strong anti-fungal properties, to the soil to help keep mildew at bay. I've used worm compost as a fungicide on mildewy monarda before and it worked wonders. I tried to find a scientific study documenting the anti-fungal properties of worm compost and couldn't. But since I've seen it work, I just use my own anecdotal data.


  1. Hey, where do they sell those knifes? looking for a Christmas present.

  2. I didn't know about the anti-fungal properties of worm compost. Learn something new every day!!

  3. Ah, those are among the best gifts of all. Persistence--I keep telling my daughter to keep trying. Failure is just another way to learn and to discern what's important. To you, the Clematis is important! I can see why!

  4. Perfect! I love it when a problem is solved so resourcefully and your Roguchi can thrive where it is. Simple solutions, great reward.

  5. You are such a wonderful caretaker of your plants. They are lucky to have such a wonderful owner! Hey, what is your recipe for homemade worm compost?

  6. First of all this clematis Roguchi is a real beauty. I love the dainty flowers! I can see why you put so much work and love into it to make it happy! Your observation about the anti-fungal properties of worm compost is really interesting. I grow a lot of roses and many of them are very prone to powdery mildew in my garden. I felt that the ones which I fed with worm compost are much healthier than the others in general: they grew more vigorously, flowered more generously and had less disease problems. Just wish I would produce more worm compost! Great stuff!

  7. Podziwiam Twoje pomysły. Dajesz roślinom co najlepsze i kochasz je. Pozdrawiam

  8. Three very good qualities to have , and not just in the garden!

  9. Great solution!! I'm envious of your Clematis, it's so lovely. I bought a couple of bell Clematis from Plant Delights 2 years ago and they died over the winter but I must try again.

  10. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Very creative! I can spot the science teacher in your well considered and methodical approach to problem solving!

  11. Nice way to approach the problem at hand with resourcefulness, tenacity and encouragement. I too see the teacher in your way of looking at this problem. You saw opportunity and ingenuity.

  12. Great way to approach life in general! And such a beautiful plant! I can see why you'd want to save it and encourage it to grow well and healthy instead of just "all over the place." I, too, see the science teacher in you in this post :) I echo Karin's question: I'd love your recipe for worm compost too!

  13. Hey there...check out this site on the easy-roll worm composting system. Pretty cool, eh?

  14. Great construction tips and, hey, great info about the mushroom compost. I will definitely keep that tidbit of info in the back of my mind to use later this year.


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