Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Everything's Coming Up Roses

Shari-Lyn Safir with a sample of a
bare root rose
         "A rose is a rose is a rose."
                                       Gertrude Stein

North Toronto's own Shari-Lyn Safir respectfully disagrees with the famous words of Gertrude Stein.  With a smile, she points to the thousands of incredible roses available to gardeners to back up her position.  At the March 8th meeting Shari-Lyn, who happens to be the President of the Canadian Rose Society, shared her love of these incredible flowers and offered loads of useful advice on how to grow them successfully the organic way.  Here are some of her tips.

What to Buy?
Bare root roses on a hardy root stock are best.  Potted roses available in some garden centres occasionally disappoint because they come from southern U.S. producers who use a root stock too tender for our cold climate.

How to Plant?
Dig a hole at least three feet wide and two feet deep.  Place a mound of pure black earth in the centre of the hole.  Place the bare root stock over the mound so that the roots cascade over the mound.  Don't force the roots to go where they don't want to go.  Let them fall naturally on the mound.

Add three shredded banana peels to the
planting hole to give your rose
a healthy helping of potassium
Prepare a mixture of 1/3 black earth, 1/3 compost (not mushroom compost though; it contains too much salt for roses), and 1/3 sheep manure.  Fill the hole one third full with your mixture, tamp it down to get rid of air pockets and water it well.  Let the water soak in really well before you repeat the procedure.  Be sure to add three shredded banana peels to the planting hole.  This will give your rose a much welcome potassium boost.

Don't stop once you have filled in your planting hole.  Keep mounding pure black earth over the rose canes and leave the canes covered for two to three weeks.  This directs all energy to the roots and healthy roots mean a healthy and happy rose.

When to Prune?
You know it's the right time to prune when the forsythia are in bloom.  Don't prune your rose in the first year.  Instead, get to know your plant.   After the second year you can prune your hybrid tea roses by half and other rose varieties by a third. Shrub roses might not need to be pruned for 3-5 years while ramblers and climbers should be allowed to ramble and climb.

The right time to prune is when
the forsythia are in bloom
When pruning you should try to achieve an open bowl shape using three to five canes.  This not only enhances the beauty of the rose but also promotes good air circulation which reduces the risk of disease. Don't be afraid to prune. Pruning is the best way to show your roses some love and they will reward you with abundant blooms.

What About Fertilizer?
Alfalfa cubes and horse manure are all the fertilizer you need.  Spread around your plants and they will get a good feeding with every rain.  NTHS member Christine Moore says it's worth the trip to North York Farmers  for your alfalfa. If you are entering roses in competition, 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of epsom salts sprinkled around your roses a week before competition is recommended. Do not feed roses after August 1st.  They need time to slow down and get ready for winter.  Stop dead-heading your roses in mid-October for the same reason.
What About Water?
Never water at night.  It encourages blackspot and other disease.  Shari-Lyn recommends three gallons of water per week applied all at the same time.  A good long soaking encourages roots to grow deep.  Sprinkling your roses lightly will encourage shallow root development.  This becomes a problem during drought. Roots near the surface dry out and the whole plant suffers.

Pests and Diseases
Ingredients found in your kitchen cupboard
make great pest and disease deterrents
Shari-Lyn shared some organic recipes to fend of some familiar rose foes.

Recipe for Rust and Blackspot
1 gallon or 4.5L of water
1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 squirt of mild dish soap
Spray once every five days wherever you see evidence of disease.

Recipe for Aphids
1 gallon or 4.5L of water
7-8 crushed garlic cloves
Place crushed garlic in water and let stand for 24 hours.  Strain the mixture and spray where you see aphids.
(Squishing them with your fingers is also an effective option)

Hilling Up Your Roses
It is safe to hill up your roses once the ground has a good hard freeze to it.  Mound pure black earth over the canes.  Cover the earth with shredded autumn leaves.  To prevent the leaves from being blown away cover the entire mound with horse manure.  This will protect your roses through the winter.  Once spring arrives worms will get to work on the leaves and the mound adding important organic matter back to the soil.

Thank you Shari-Lyn for all the fantastic advice.  Thanks to your presentation there will be many happy roses in the gardens of our members this growing season.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting some of the natural recipes for fertilizer and bug control. It was a great talk. What doesn't Shari know?!