Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the smallish purebred border collie, a.k.a. The Noodle, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you, well, what I can only say is a superinformative post. You may remember me from such posts as “Naughty Noodle”, among so many, many others.
Here I am in a characteristic pose. I was expecting something. I forget what, now. I’m sure I got whatever I wanted. The guy I live with says I always do. Or mostly always.
Anyway, the guy I live with said that even though I was tired from Day Care today (where I had a really good time as usual, and by the way I should say that I go there because I really like it, not because the guy I live with wants to get rid of me, though he said today he got in a lot of watering and other work which he couldn’t do because I might be “in the way”, if you can imagine that), “Maybe it’s about time to do an informative post.” Then, pondering it just a little, he snapped his fingers and said, “No, let’s do a superinformative post.”
I thought that was a good idea, given the general High Seriousness of our blog, but couldn’t figure out what could possibly be all that superinformative, and then he mentioned a process called degunkification, which he claims he invented and that everyone else is taking credit for it, and so he should have patented it and then we could have moved to that castle in Scotland that he should have inherited from his maternal grandmother, had she only been in the proper sequence of inheritance, and had there not been an episode involving a highwayman on a moonlit moor in late autumn “or something like that”, but it could just be that he got confused, because it was in his paternal grandfather’s side of the family that something untoward happened, and not even in Scotland but in Ireland (admittedly fairly close) where an ancestor, a gardener if you can believe that, was forced to leave the Emerald Isle under what the family still whispers as being “unknown circumstances”.
Where was I? Oh, degunkification. The guy I live with said to write it Degunkification ™, but I thought that was really too pompous, and anyway he didn’t trademark it, and I must say, not that he ever would, because he isn’t interested in taking credit for anything except being my friend.
I keep getting distracted. You know the stuff that plant roots are grown in when you get one in a pot? The guy I live with calls that “nursery gunk”, and while it may very well do the trick in a nursery, where plants are constantly watered, when you’re planting during a drought, which this is, not having rained here since the eleventh of July (except for a bit last night, which didn’t do much good except make the air smell good, and do that petrichor thing–you know, where the earth smells good after a rain–and it smelled all cool and rain-soaked, or maybe I should say rain-kissed, until one of the neighbors hung their reeking laundry out to dry, and then the whole garden smelled like laundry detergent and fabric softener, which my ultra-sensitive nose also finds nauseating), so, he says, if you dig a hole and plant the plant and then water it, the peat moss that comprises most of the nursery gunk will dry out by the next day, and if you’ve ever fooled around with it, you know that peat moss is very difficult to re-wet.
Add to that a hopelessly root-bound plant and you have something formidable to deal with. The guy I live with says that when you have a root-bound plant growing in nursery gunk you have almost zero chance of the plant’s survival, since the roots are so tightly bound together they have no chance of growing into the surrounding soil, which the guy I live with says means “establishment”, and combined with the gunk, doom is almost certain, unless you do something.
Look at this. (This is Penstemon barbatus, if you felt you had to know.)The guy I live with says this is “mostly hopeless” in the same sense that Farm Boy Westley in “The Princess Bride” (“one of the best movies ever”, according to the guy I live with; I’ve never seen it) was “mostly dead”, and so there is always hope, even though things look hopeless.
What you do is soak this mess in a dishpan full of water. Even overnight is good. You do have dishpans, don’t you? The guy I live with says he could never garden without them. (You know, like regular dishpans you can get anywhere.)
Then, you take a root hook, and gently tease out the roots. The roots have been softened by soaking in water, and so this isn’t a difficult task. The guy I live with says an ordinary kitchen fork will work, but a genuine Japanese root hook is not expensive (check Hida Tool’s website if you don’t believe us), and is actually designed to do this.
You get a cork, like a champagne cork (the guy I live with says it doesn’t matter what brand of champagne, though it gives an excuse to acquire a good vintage French champagne, and then drink it, cold of course, in order to get the cork you need), to stick on the end of the hook, so you can carry it around with being hooked yourself, which “would be a drag”.
And then you tease out the roots, so the end result looks like this.Looks pretty different, doesn’t it? Some of the gunk has been washed away too.
Then you dig a hole, put the plant in it, water it, maybe once or twice, depending on your mood, and then backfill, making sure to cover the rootball completely.
Well, I told you this was going to be superinformative, didn’t I? The guy I live with says that maybe this was covered before, but that at that time it was only informative, whereas now it’s superinformative.
That’s how his mind works.
Not much else has been happening, as usual. The guy I live with says that more bulbs are coming in the mail, which is excellent, and so there’s that. Oh, and I guess it’s the equinox, and so we should both wish you happy equinox, whether it’s now autumn for you, or spring.
And now I see I’ve been going on for rather a long time, so I should let you go now.
Until next time, then.
Wow, what a surprise. I was kind of resigned to the once a week news, but here are so many informative bonus words. I used to think potting soil was great stuff, even dumping used pots of it into the garden. But I’ve learned better from my readings here and get as much off as I can. And now I know how to get those hideously potbound plants off to a better start. Thank you for informing us, Mani.
Why, you’re welcome. I really did feel like being superinformative, for once. And as you may have surmised. I like talking, too. There really is very little going on here, and I guess I like that as much as the guy I live with does. He tends to take a nap, lying on the living room floor (but with his head on the big couch pillow which I chewed a hole in the corner of), and I’ve found that lying right next to him and napping away, in the afternoon, is about the most excellent thing I can imagine.
I agree with Barb K, thanks for the more frequent posts Mani.
and the potbound plant info is helpful.
I hope you get whatever you were expecting, whether is it a treat or a toy.
Thanks; I must have gotten what I wanted, because I don’t want it now.
Since the weather is cooling off, maybe there will be more posts. Especially if they feature me a lot.
Thank you, Mani, for the super informative post. I was ignorant of the potbound plant issue. Now I know why some of my flowers withered shortly after I planted them, even with daily watering. I’m looking forward to doing it the RIGHT way next spring! Gotta go buy a garden dishpan. 🙂
You’re welcome. The guy I live with says he doesn’t always follow his own advice. Well, of course. You should still water new plants a lot.
Dishpans, buckets, and a good watering can seem to be the key to garden happiness. And a root hook, of course.
Because of this blog, Mani, I’ve acquired books and read them, bought dog treats, Lamb Chops and other “indestructible” chew toys, and now I need a root hook. A dishpan I already own and use daily. When the first photo showed Penstemon barbatus roots all clogged together, I wished we’d get to see the roots as they looked when the guy you live with got done with them. Wish granted! Plus, I now have to acquire and drink good Champagne! Life, she is good. What an important concept, degunkification, worthy of widespread communication. This post will be sent by me all around the interwebz, including to people who spent the day with me working in our group’s heritage rose garden. I could stand more frequent posts, superinformative or just regular informative, especially when brought to us by a dog who looks as cutsie pie as you, Mani, in the last photo. Because of this blog’s information, I have already been clawing potted plant roots apart and shaking them free of potting soil, but now I will do the task with *technique*. Thank you.
Thanks, and you’re welcome. The guy I live with says Hida Tool calls it a “bonsai dirt hook” and it’s $18.90. When he got one it cost less, but you know the way things are. (He says I was four hundred dollars.) He also says that Succession Planting by Christopher Lloyd recommends a similar degunkification technique; at least, soaking the root ball in a bucket of water to make sure all the air bubbles are gone, which is what they used to suggest with bare-root roses, you know, rocking them back and forth in the soil after they’re planted. (It isn’t like roots don’t need oxygen, but they don’t like air pockets.) And also, that this book shows things like how to really tie up plants and a whole bunch of other things, putting it in the top ten list of best gardening books. I’ve never read it; maybe I should.