After this crazy winter when temperature went warm in January, then too cold in February, it is nice to see the garden coming to life again . The air is warming up, the birds are coming back and you hear them chirping again. The nurseries are brimming with new plants, gardeners are swarming the garden centers and heading home to plant those beautiful plants. They are so enthused to start digging. But there are so many things to do first:
· Gather some soil from four different sections of the garden. Let them dry and take them to your Cooperation Extension for a soil test.
· Scatter Epsom salt in the garden. A handful for Hybrid Teas and other big flowered roses will suffice and Minis get half the dosage.
· Then start pruning. The basic rule is to prune your roses when the forsythia blooms. Cut out all diseased, damaged and dead wood, down to the white pith. If you see brown, cut further down. Seal all cuts with Elmer’s Glue.
· After you have done with pruning, remove all leaves and clean the garden of old, diseased leaves. They are the depository of blackspot spores and mildew.
· Next thing to do is spread some fertilizer. I used a Bayer All-in-One Rose & Flower Care. In some states, you can not buy the Bayer All-in-One which is much better product than Bayer 2-in-One. Bayer All-in-One contains fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide. I find this very effective in preventing diseases and it gives my roses my first feeding for the season. Watch the weather forecast and spread it before it rains. Some rosarians use 10-20-10 or 12-24-12.
· Once the roses start leafing out, spray with dormant oil. It seems to work. I don’t have much blackspot. Aphids should be coming in droves pretty soon. Get some ladybugs. They will do the trick. Also put some nematodes in your lawn. They kill the grubs which later become Japanese beetles.
· Last thing to do is mulch. If you have mulch there already, add more but stir the old mulch first. Some mulch packs down and has to be stirred a bit for better water penetration. Mulch controls the weeds and keeps the bed moist.
Roses are not difficult to grow contrary to popular belief as long as you know what they need. Why do you think Roses have been around for millions of years? All they need are food, water and sunlight. Just like you and me.
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Happy Rose Gardening!
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