How-to Basics: Veggie Gardens, Rose Care

May 29, 2012

Basics for Veggie Gardens:

- Find a sunny spot (5-6 hours of sun per day
- Cut sod off, do not dig into the soil
- Amend with a good organic matter source, leaf mulch or cotton burr compost
- Select crops that you and your children like to eat
- Start small - 6 to 10 varieties only
- Set out started plants or seeds
- Use a good quality fertilizer at planting time and monthly
- Water 1 inch per week divided into 2 applications
- Harvest regularly

12 Commandments for Rose Care:

1. Do not place roses in shade. Roses need at least 6 hours of growing season sun daily to be successful. TIP: If you have less sun than that and still want roses, look for varieties that have low petal counts (less than 30 petals per flower), they are more shade tolerant.

2. Avoid planting too close to solid structural elements (walls, for example) or densely foliaged plants that will restrict air flow and drying of foliage. TIP: After roses are fully leafed and at least 20-24" tall, strip off the bottom 6" of leaves to improve air circulation (cultural blackspot prevention).

3. Only plant in well-drained soils. Never plant in areas that experience standing surface water, even if "only" 3-4 times per year. TIP: If in doubt, do a simple percolation test. Dig the hole deep enough to accommodate the root ball and fill with water. Time to see how long it takes to drain to the bottom. If it's ½ full or more after 24 hours, you need to consider another site or major drainage improvements!

4. Look for "own root" roses whenever available. "Own root" means they're more innately hardy, less prone to viruses and more likely to survive and recover after a knockout winter. TIP: If the variety you desire is only available "grafted", be sure and plant with the graft union 1-2" below the soil surface (regardless of what books may say).

5. Incorporate organic matter in the bed at the time of planting whether your soil is heavy clay or sandy. TIP: Incorporate 1 part dehydrated manure, cotton burr compost or Chalet leaf mulch to 3 parts soil. Mix thoroughly. If your soil is sandy you may add peat to your list of amendment choices.

6. Water deeply and infrequently, rather than lightly and often. TIP: Either hand water or run soaker hoses under the mulch to deep water and keep water off the leaves. Don't use overhead watering or sprinkler systems for roses! Regardless of method, water as early in the day as possible to allow the foliage to dry.

7. Fertilize frequently to produce the very best roses! TIP: Roses are heavy feeders and will really respond to regular feeding, regardless of whether you choose an "organic" or a "synthetic" fertilizer.

8. Mulching is not an option, it's a requirement. TIP: All plants perform best with a mulch. Use at least an inch layer of: Chalet Leaf Mulch, cotton burr compost or shredded hardwood bark, leaving at least a 3" diameter opening around the stems.

9. Deadhead religiously and therefore be rewarded many times over. Remove individual flowers or the entire cluster down to the first set of 5 leaflets as the petals are starting to drop. TIP: In hot weather you may want to go down to the second set of 5 leaflets where a stronger bud exists for the next flower cycle.

10. Control Japanese Beetles (or at least reduce their effect). TIP: It is important to know that Japanese Beetles prefer to eat where others come before them. So, getting rid of the first wave will reduce the population and damage for the entire season! Also, know they'll be drawn to dark red roses first.

11. Blackspot is the number 1 fungal problem. TIP: Space far enough apart that roses are not touching each other at midsummer growth spread, and water from underneath. Remember, prevention is always better than a cure with blackspot.

12. If just starting out and intimidated by roses, look at the: shrub, climber, rugosa and miniature classes for ease and hardiness!

NOTE: Jennifer Brennan was also answering questions from viewers on the ABC7 News This Morning Facebook page.

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