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Networked Learning Project Update

     I started the rose garden learning project by seeking out a site for the bed that will enjoy six to eight hours of sunlight. The site for the prototype garden is in a sunny location where there are no pre-existing tree roots. I learned that roses need the access to the sun to keep growing during the spring and summer months and into the fall. The site I chose has not previously been used for a garden (

      I first needed to turn over the existing sod to prepare the space for long roots. I learned that roses make deep roots to add to their survival when seasons are very dry. The raised box that I will build provides only 10 inches of soil, so the soil beneath the box will need to be opened so that the rose roots can reach more deeply into the existing soil beneath the box.

     Getting the soil prepared presented a small obstacle. I noticed that the sod at the selected site was very hard since there has been limited rain in July. So, before tilling the soil, I needed to soften the sod for turning. My solution was to try out my drip hose. This challenge gave me the opportunity to try out all of the equipment that will eventually be used to water the roses after they have been planted. The parts for the watering system include: 1) Timer, 2) hose length, 3) valve at the connection from the hose from the spigot to the drip hose, 4) drip hose, and 5) outdoor spigot.  The water for the prototype garden is treated by the city. The garden planned for the future will use an abundant supply of untreated water, pumped from a 200 ft well. I learned that roses do best with drip watering, and that they should be watered in the morning. The soil needs to be well-drained. Roses do not do well with “wet feet.”  (“Roses For The Home, Growing Roses In The  Midwest.” (Lindley, N., April 2012). I learned specifics about home much water my roses will need at the David Austin Site (https://www.davidaustinro,

     The raised garden will sit on top of the soil that I turned over. The soil in the box should meet the recommended parameters for optimum rose growth. I learned that the soil will need to have a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. I bought a pH meter that will be used for ongoing testing of the soil pH. The original pH for the soil in the raised bed will be posted on the bags of soil that I will purchase. The roses will gain the majority of their nourishment from the 10 inches deep soil in the raised garden box. That depth is most likely not enough for the rose roots which will extend to the soil beneath the box.  So, tilling that soil was necessary before adding the box above. Roses roots may extend to a depth of 24 inches. ( I made no effort to amend the existing soil beneath the box in any way  a decision that I may regret as time may prove that I should have made an additional up front investment)

     Hopefully the roses will receive enough nourishment from the prepared soil that will be added to the raised garden box. I learned that the soil should have a pH of 6.5 -7.0. I also learned that the soil should be enriched with compost. ( I learned that the composition of the compost should be about 2 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. The prepared soil that I will purchase to fill the garden box should already be rich in potassium and calcium. Some experts suggest adding bone meal to the base of the plant at the time that the rose roots are placed in the soil. Since the roses that I purchase will already be in soil, I will not add bone meal. Bone meal is rich in potassium. The potted soils should already be amended to contain the nutrients that the roses need.  Adding compost to the soil in the raised box later in the season will also support the nutritional needs of the rose plants. I will buy the compost in bags for the start of this project. Later, I will add compost that I have created by building a compost heap. (

     I learned that roses need space. When planted, they should be about 2 feet apart. (Jackson And Perkins, "Seven Deadly Sins Of Rose Gardening" (

Since my rose bed will be ten feet long, I will be planting the roses one foot from each end of the box and two feet apart. Based on the suggested distance apart for adequate ventilation, I will plant four bushes in my prototype garden.

      When I prepare the hole to plant the roses, I will make the hole wide enough and deep enough so that the graft for the rose will be about 2.5 centimeters above the ground. The width of the hole should be 18 to 24 inches. The depth of the hole should be 15 – 18 inches. "Rose Gardening: Rose Gardening For Beginners"

     I leaned that bare root roses should be planted in the early spring. Since I will be planting the roses in early August, I can only plant roses that are in soil already. I read that I should look for several specific factors when picking a potted rose bush. The roots must be secure in the pot, do not select roses where the plant is not firmly rooted in the soil. Also it is a good idea to pick a plant that has a bloom to be sure of what to expect in future blooms. That first bloom will be removed when the rose is planted (

     The location for this prototype garden will be in the Hardiness Zone of 3-7 (Roses For The Home, Growing Rose Gardens In The Midwest) (Lindley, pg 1). I learned that roses are not really as hard to grow as the lore proposes, but for a beginner, a Knockout rose is a good choice. The Knockout roses are resistant to diseases and thrive in this region of the country. When I pick out the rose I will look for two things: 1) The hardiest plants are Grade 1, and 2) The All American Rose Selection (AARS) classification. (Rose Gardening: Rose Gardening For Beginners ( I have been looking for roses that will make it through a harsh Michigan winter. So far, I have read that the Knockout roses are a good investment. They do well in the cooler regions and are resistant to diseases.

     I bought the wood for the raised beds from a local lumber yard. The bed will be ten feet long and four feet wide. The depth of the bed will be 10 inches with a 2 inch deep top that will help to secure the form of the raised bed and also provide a space to rest on when the garden needs to be worked. Wood for the base of the bed includes two 2 x 10s (10 feet long), two 2 x1 0 (four feet long). The wood for the top of the bed includes two 2 X 4s (ten feet long) and two 2X4s, 4 ft (3 feet 4 inches long). I learned that dimensions of wood are not exactly as they sound. For example a 2 X 4 is not really two inches deep and 4 inches long. I added to my lumber order four 2 X 3 s cut at 10 inches to sit at each corner of the bed to add support. I also ordered 8 short 2x4 pieces to add to the support of  cover to the bed. The cover will be secured directly to the 2 X 10s. The 2x4 s will provide additional support. I will use 2.5 inch deck screws to hold the boards together. I will use an electric drill for starter hole and counter sinks.

    The raised garden bed will sit above the ground on wood chips. This will serve two goals, the roses will easily drain at the base of the box, and the box will be less likely to rot due to direct exposure to the soil. The inspiration for my raised box came from the design that I saw at this online site: (“How To Build A Raised Garden Bed – Easy (EZ) & Cheap"

     My greatest support for learning online has come from the MSU Extension. Mary Wilson sent me an online copy of “Roses For The Home, Growing Roses In The  Midwest.”  This is an MS publication authored by Nancy L. Lindley, MSU extension Master Gardener  and retired owner of Midwestern Rose Nursery. The publication is no longer available in print. This publication will serve as a continuing reference as this project is extended to larger goals.  MSU operates a farm and education center near Novi. The Tollgate farm provided many online helps for a beginning rose gardener.  ( 

     I learned about Knockout roses at this site: ( This website was also very helpful. Since a novice rose gardener makes many mistakes, I was fortunate to find the Jackson And Perkins site that outlined the mistakes that beginning gardeners make. ( Jackson and Perkins also provided extensive information explaining the best soils for rose gardens. Finally, the guidance provided in the video “How To Build A Raised Garden Bed” (, provided exceptionally clear instructions that I modified slightly to increase the size of the garden. The instructional video provided by  Austin Austin for planting potted roses was extremely insightful and offered great tips.

Bed WidthJPG.JPG
        Measuring Bed Width
Timer and hose JPG.JPG
      Automatic Water Timer
drip hose Best.JPG
       Pre-Soak  Before Turning Soil
Measuring Bed length.JPG
        Measuring  Bed Length
hose lineJPG.JPG
               Garden Hose
turn off valve.JPG
Soaker Hose Layout JPG.JPG
          Valve For Soaker Hose
          Soaker Hose Layout
             Turning The Soil
 Breaking Up and Raking Soil
    Ready for Adding Raised                  Garden Box
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