Wally Richards: roses in December

If there is one plant I am asked more about than any other, it is a rose.

Gardeners and even non-gardeners just love their roses, going out of their way to have great looking specimens.

Roses do best by far if you throw away all your chemical rose foods and sprays and give them the more natural things that make them healthy and perform well. You need a little Key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree Oil for the aphids and any other pests that might attack the roses. Ensure that the roses have sufficient minerals by applying a little Ocean Solids and Rok Solid to the soil in the root zone. The Ocean solids is applied once a year and the Rok Solid twice a year in spring and autumn.

"Auckland Metro"

A two weekly spray of Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) will make a big difference and if you have been using chemical fertiliser or sprays in the past drench the soil with it also now and then again in about 3 months time.  Avoid using any  herbicides near your roses as it is another factor that can reduce the health of plants because of the chemical’s effect on the soil food web. Also deadly to roses if a whiff of spray drift.

I believe that the soil food web is vital to plants and should be nurtured more than one would nurture the plants growing in the soil. Hence no rose fertiliser or Nitrophoska would ever be applied to have their acid nature damage the web. The non use of herbicides, chemical fertilisers and sprays means my soil is teeming with worms which are the sign of a very healthy soil.  Also water should only be done with non chlorinated water. Get a filter to remove the chlorine from the tap water if it contains chlorine.

If you do not have chicken manure or animal manure such as horse manure available then you can provide  natural base foods such as sheep manure pellets, blood & bone and animal manure based composts.

Every week I receive emails and phone calls from gardeners who have adopted the natural methods I write about and they all tell me that they have never had such great gardens as they now have.

Many tell me that after years of struggling to obtain healthy looking roses (and other plants), using rose sprays and rose fertilisers to no avail, they have changed to the natural foods and health giving products. Within a season or two all the past problems have disappeared and now their roses are even better than they had ever hoped for. There is no secret to this, just work with nature, not against it. If you try to work against nature all you end up with is chemical warfare, both you and the plants are the losers.

So what should you be doing with your roses at this time?

Ensure that they have a little potash and magnesium each month. This can be applied as Fruit and Flower Power (mix of both in balance) or alternatively a little potash and Epsom salts. Dolomite and Gypsum can also be sprinkled every couple of months for the calcium/sulphur/ magnesium that these products supply. Calcium is very important for the health of soil food web. When aphids or other insects are around a simple spray of Key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree Oil, just prior to dusk, will keep them under control.  Roses that repeat flower through the season should be dead headed as the blooms finish.  With newly planted roses just nip off the dead flower head without the removal of any leaves.

A new rose needs all its leaves to gain energy from the sun. Established roses, second year or older should be cut further back taking some stem and leaves with the dead flower head.  This encourages new growth and your next lot of buds and flowers. Established roses can be cut for vases but not first year roses.

Gardeners that have roses that they are not proud of can follow the following procedure to obtain those desired healthy roses:

  • Stop using any chemicals any where near or on the roses.
  • Drench the soil with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) and Mycorrcin combined and spray the plants with the same.
  • Sprinkle a little Ocean solids, Rok Solid, Dolomite, sheep manure pellets (or animal manure) plus blood & bone, around the root zone then cover the products with compost. Water in with MBL and Mycorrcin.
  • Twice a month till mid autumn spray the soil and the plants with the same two products. Use the key Pyrethrum and Neem Tree Oil if insects attack the plants.
  • In autumn (March) apply the Dolomite, blood & bone, sheep pellets and cover with more compost.

You should see improvements this first season but more so next season.

For those that do have nice healthy roses a monthly spray of MBL and Mycorrcin over the foliage and soil should be sufficient. Feed the roses the natural foods as required, covering with compost.

In the late autumn early winter your roses will start preparing for their winter rest and you should not be concerned about any blemishing of the foliage at that time. It is just nature taking out the foliage and converting it to food for the soil food web. A clean up spray of Lime Sulphur in winter is all that is needed.

It is a successful easy approach to gardening and should be also applied to your vegetable and fruit crops as they are going to provide you with the vital healthy food our bodies need.

Christmas gift idea

Purchase a citrus tree from your local garden centre along with a larger container (about 45 litres) and a bag of compost. Total cost would be somewhere between $30 to $50, depending on the type of container you select. Plant the citrus tree in the container using the compost with some blood & bone and sheep manure pellets along with a hand full of soil mixed in the lower part of the container, where the tree’s roots are going to sit. Back fill with more compost. Ensure that there is about 30 mm between the top of the compost and the rim of the container which allows for easy watering.  Place outside in full sun till you are ready to wrap and present.

If you would like to add a little more to the planting then place say 4 x lettuce seedlings, one at each of the cardinal points of the container. Alternatively 4 x herbs such as thyme, sage, marjoram and chives can be planted at the 4 points.
This makes a wonderful gift that will bring years of pleasure to the receiver.

Any type of citrus will do but choose a type that the person does not have a specimen of already.
I have several citrus trees growing in containers this way and they produce a good harvest of fruit each year.
For a young couple setting up home it can become an annual gift, of a new different type of citrus every year. Start with a lemon and work your way through all the different types such as the oranges, grapefruit, tangelos, ugly fruit etc.


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