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CULT: Irises in the Fingerlakes

In a message dated 6/14/2006 6:57:26 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
mollyd1953@hotmail.com writes:

<<I live in Cannandaigua, NY in the Fingerlakes Region (wine  country). We 
to be zone 4 here. I just moved here last year after  living for 20 years in 
the Catskills (zone3). Compared to that this area  seems downright mild!>>

We've got some folks on the list from your neck of the woods, and  even 
further up toward the Pole. I'd expect you to get some useful responses  on cold 
turf culture.
<< Because I'm starting a new garden here I decided that I wanted  to expand 
my knowledge on Iris and acquire some named varieties. Not an easy  thing to 
do on a local level as I've found a lot of mis-identified plants in  the 
Alas! That problem is widespread. Has been for decades. I would never  
suggest there were people out there who just can't resist maximizing their  return 
on investment, nay, perish the thought, but it does seem to  be a lot of simple 
human error going around.
You might want to consider ordering some stuff in from nurseries  folks here 
recommend. What sorts of irises are you looking for, anyway?  What sort of 
growing conditions do you have there? Decent dirt? Good  drainage? 
<<Anyway figured I'd get an education before I invested more  money in them.>>
That is a prudent course. If you like prudent courses that is certainly  a 
good one to follow. Or you could just go whole hog and wallow like many  of us 
<<One quick question. I found a supplier of mushroom compost at a  really 
price ($21./yard). Do Iris like stuff this rich or is it too  much for them?

Depends. We are back to that question of what sort of dirt you  have there 
and what sorts of irises you want to grow. Some  folks here rely on the stuff, 
but I have been wary. I read the back of a bag  of it and it talked in hushed 
mysterious tones about how every master  mushroom meister has his own secret 
formula for getting more and  better 'shrooms from his compost. I figured there 
was no way to tell what  sort of stuff was in there. That said, if you were 
making new beds  for most kinds of irises, I'd think you could treat this like 
any composted  manure, that is, put it about a foot down, not touching the 
rhizomes. One of  the problems with manures is they may contain pathogens which 
induce rot.  Another problem is they may be rich, which can encourage soft 
growth,  which is prone to rot. Here I'm primarily talking bearded irises.  There 
could be a lime issue, too, maybe, which could matter if you were  interested 
in Japanese irises.
Keep talking. We are listening.  
Anner Whitehead
Richmond VA USA

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