The Stopwatch Gardener

A gardening blog from Sheila M. Averbuch

My budding vegetable venture is getting nipped by the roses


Click for larger image

Top of my list for 2010 gardening resolutions is to grow vegetables, and my husband this week helpfully put together the raised bed and filled it with soil, compost and manure. However — this is rose pruning time, and I’ve just spent two hours out there clipping and cleaning up old foliage from the roses, giving no headspace whatsoever to my vegetable project. I hope my Eatin’ Project endeavour isn’t doomed!

My cos lettuce seedlings are ready to go, my stumpy little Parmex carrots are waiting to be planted, and parsnip seeds could get into some toilet roll holders tonight if the kids get to bed early. I have heard that neither carrots nor parsnips, as root vegetables, will be happy if transplanted, but since the Parmex are ball-shaped, I may risk them in modules and keep the toilet rolls for the ‘nips.

And so I return to the roses. The Rose de Rescht hedge I planted two years ago is in places well over three feet tall, and I cut the whole thing straight across with shears today, saving a few choice offcuts to put into the ground as hardwood cuttings. (I look for a good, thick, straight piece of wood, about 9 inches long. At the bottom, I cut straight through the middle of a growth bud — or a swollen area that should be a growth bud; at the top I cut just above a growth bud. As long as they go into a lightly shaded bit of ground that will get moisture and dappled sun for the next year, the cuttings will be very happy and may even produce flowers this summer).

Click for larger imageBut it’s the climbers I most look forward to pruning. I have an Etoile de Holland and a David Austin climbing James Galway, and both are performing so brilliantly for me in June and September, with James Galway flowering right through into November. Both of these roses let me train their long, long arms horizontally and they produce flowers all along their horizontal length, as long as I clip side shoots back to two or three buds in February.

Somebody please tell me I’m going to get similar satisfaction from my vegetables. The raised bed is in a good, sunny position near a few of my favourite roses, which will hopefully will provide a background scent as I tend the vegetables. If I can just get some food out of the ground, maybe I will start to feel the love. If you’re a flower lover who’s also going edible for the first time this year, speak up.

12 Comments to

“My budding vegetable venture is getting nipped by the roses”

  1. On February 13th, 2010 at 10:26 pm Grace Says:

    Know what I’d do with those raised beds? Plant everbearing [day neutral] strawberries and/or dwarf blueberries. If you’ve got an area for everbearing raspberries such as Autumn Bliss which begins producing in early July and doesn’t quit until frost, it is absolutely worth every inch of soil space it demands. There is nothing quite as enjoyable as downing a mouthful of fresh berries while soaking up summer’s rays and inhaling the scent of flowers.

    You’ve probably guess that I grow more fruit than I do veggies. It’s just my preference but it means having edibles without all the fuss of what I consider high-maintenance veggies.

    I’ve had Rose de Rescht in my garden for 12 years. It’s on its own roots and has spread by underground runners to form a nice approx. five foot area. If I don’t prune mine it can grow well over six feet but I find it blooms much more abundantly if I keep it down to 3 feet.

    You must think I’m a royal know-it-all. 🙂

    Nice photos. I’m so ready for roses!

  2. On February 14th, 2010 at 8:26 am The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    I adore fruit but my husband is a bit anti-berry; am planning to put strawberries in the bed and would LOVE blueberries, but feel I should keep them closer to the house (the raised bed is far from the door) as I will need to chase off birds, unless I go with fleece. But ‘protected’ crops is what I have most disliked about the idea of fruit and vegetable growing, so I’d rather not cover things up.

    Grace I love to get your feedback, not know-it-allish at all! I had no idea Rose de Rescht could get so high…and am delighted to hear it lasts so long, as I’d heard it can run out of steam after a few years.

    Must think of edibles, though, must think of edibles. You have got me thinking blueberry again and I’m going to look into this!

  3. On February 14th, 2010 at 3:15 pm Image of the week and the wrap-up – Fennel and Fern Says:

    […] The Stopwatch Gardener is torn between her beautiful roses and growing more vegetables. […]

  4. On February 15th, 2010 at 1:43 pm Kate Bradbury Says:

    Hi Sheila, good luck with your veg-growing venture. I think it’s well worth the effort. I’m almost doing the reverse of you this year as I have always grown veg on allotments etc and have grown very few ornamental plants due to living in flats and rented accommodation. But I recently moved into my first flat with garden so am itching to get going. Have so far sown Eryngium leavenworthii, sweet peas and loads of tomatoes, chillies and aubergines. So I’m also finding it hard to break the habit! Kate

  5. On February 15th, 2010 at 2:54 pm The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thanks for your comment and can I please apologize for calling you “Katie” on the Gardeners World blog? I noticed it afterwards and couldn’t edit my comment! It’s funny that you are doing the converse of what I’m doing. Can I persuade you to stick a rose into the ground among your flowers? There’s such infinite variety, I bet you will find something you can love (although I know some people find roses too granny-like). I did end up planting those carrots and parsnips the other night, and I’m going to hang in there until I love it. My kids are quite small, and I feel a bit of a responsibility to teach them how to turn seeds into food, in case that kind of thing should become a requirement rather than a nice-to-have in the future.

  6. On February 15th, 2010 at 11:25 pm frazzledsugarplummum Says:

    When we first arrived here it was covered in old neglected roses and my husband ripped all but a couple out. Now I am the only one doing the garden. Last year I started raised beds for vegies, added dwarf fruit trees, berries, some natives and flowers. This year I have chosen to add more roses back and stop cutting back the spreading ones. I am looking forward to seeing how they look. The vegies and flowers are all mixed in together. AKA Jackie French. The lawn is almost all gone now…lol. It is contagious. I love having strawberries and raspberries and the excitement when a vegie actually grows will give you your reward. I was stunned at how tall the parsnips grow and what lovely flowers. I think I like the flowers of the vegies better than the vegies. The kids like picking. I am happy with my near first year of gardening.

  7. On February 16th, 2010 at 9:23 am Kate Bradbury Says:

    Haha that’s ok, it made me laugh as my friends call me Katie. I don’t need persuading to grow roses but my soil is so shallow I won’t be able to grow much in the ground so it’s all containers for me – but a rose isn’t out of the question. My mum has trained a beautiful white rose to interweave with her climbing hydrangea, it looks stunning in June. Good luck with your carrots and parsnips, I’m sure your kids will love growing their own food.

  8. On February 16th, 2010 at 11:05 am The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    Hi Frazzled – thank you for the vegie encouragement – I think my kids will enjoy pulling up the parsnips when the time comes. I can’t believe I need to wait so long to see them! Can you tell me what dwarf fruit trees you planted? I have my eye on a peach and won’t mind waiting a few years to see it set fruit.

  9. On February 16th, 2010 at 9:27 pm frazzledsugarplummum Says:

    You have a wonderful blog. I spent ages looking at the beautiful photos yesterday. I especially enjoyed the individual blooms.

    I bought some dwarf fruit trees from the grower in their first year and I bought some through the local nursery who got the same grower to hold them for a few years and they will fruit this year (one year after I got them). I am in Tasmania Australia so my conditions might be a bit different to yours. This grower is highly respected around Australia so I wont mind following his pruning regime and reading his articles.

    Although it appears on my blog that I have a lot of room for trees …my house is surrounded by underground council piping and I cant grow trees on my two longest boundaries. sigh. I am putting in roses and climbers instead.

    I ended up with……
    2 Pixzee Peach and an American Peach called Okey Dokey which after some intial leaf curl is looking great. I sprayed it with seasol a liquid seaweed solution. Check for self pollination/fertile.

    2 Stella Cherries, 1 Black Dwarf Mulberry, 2 Nectazee Nectarines, 10 Chilly Wack raspberries, 3 column apples (Ballerina variety..Bolero, Polka and Flamenko), a blueberry, an apricot, a Pear, 2 olives, a Brack fig and a Bacon Avocado (I keep these last two in pots because of their potential size and they fruit more in pots), several strawberries which have sent out heaps of new plants, several kiwi fruit, passionfruit and grapes.

    I will add more as I can afford them as well as some different roses although I have had great success with cuttings.

  10. On February 17th, 2010 at 9:38 am The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    thank you Shirley!

    I’ve been reading up on Pixzee peach and it sounds good, but I really want to grow a fan trained specimen against a wall — I’m thinking of Rochester. This is the position I want to grow it in ( — to the left of the picture window you can see a small browny greenhouse against the wall; I will move the greenhouse and plant a fan trained fruit tree here. I’m just wavering on whether it should be a peach or a pear. My whole family loves pears but they are cheap and easy to buy; I fancied a peach because it’s a bit different, but I don’t look forward to controlling peach leaf curl with sprays, and I can’t find much information on whether “Avalon pride” — supposedly curl resistant — tastes any good. Anyway, I have contacted a nursery here in Devon to get their view. I may end up with a pear after all!

    Thank you for the kind comments about the blog!

  11. On February 17th, 2010 at 10:22 am frazzledsugarplummum Says:

    I love where you have chosen to put the fanned fruit tree. It will look wonderful there. “Questioner’s Garden Time’ is growing an Avalon Pride in the UK but she had trouble with leaf curl. Good luck with your choice. I look forward to seeing how it all develops. Your Garden is fabulous.

  12. On August 25th, 2010 at 2:46 pm Donegal Florist Says:

    Thanks for the wonderful read by your plants.
    I really enjoy this blog.
    Your blog post are always a great read 😉

    Aanee xxx

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