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The Path to Organic Roses
by Jack Shoultz

Originally published in California Coastal Rose Society Newsletter
September, 2007

by Jack Shoultz

Roses are very easy to grow. This statement along with a realistic approach to expectations in your rose garden will bring about the best of all worlds in having beautiful roses with minimal care. For several years now, I have continuously amended my soil with homemade compost, worm castings and lots and lots of mulch. By doing this and occasionally throwing down some good organic fertilizers my roses need very little care other then deadheading, removing blind shoots, cleaning out the center of the bush and just enjoying the beauty.

It is realistic to expect as much using organic methods as any other. The advances which we are enjoying in products being introduced with natural ingredients can only substantiate the arguments that there are really no excuses not to incorporate and move toward using organic methods. The theory behind most organic products and the people producing them is that if you have a soil rich with activity then whenever the plant needs nutrients, they are available. This can be greatly improved by the addition of humic acid or humus and mychorrizae. Read the label on all the bags, boxes and containers of products you use and if you can understand what the ingredients are, then you can decide if this will give your roses what they need.

I virtually only spray with teas - compost and worm castings - and have had great results in preventing fungal diseases. I water blast for pests and only recently used Spinosad when necessary. Spinosad is a very effective control for chewing insects such as rose slugs. I have found it also works for thrips. As far as the teas, I have made my own and used products such as Worm Magic and find that they are effective and not influenced by weather conditions such as heat.

I am continually reading and trying to find out the latest test results using organic methods and the release of new and improved products. Increasingly, the movement toward all organic gardening is fast becoming the norm instead of a fad. It is not something that has to be undertaken with fear or dread anymore. This column will bring you ideas and products that will hopefully make it an easy process for you. My introduction into organic care was full of pitfalls and trial and error. What I would like to do is make the idea of moving from chemical to organic methods a reasonable and workable transformation.

The best way to do this is to address questions that you have on what you would like to know to help move in the organic direction. Direct questions on products, methods or indirect inquiries on anything you would like to know more about within the scope of organic rose growing will help bring answers to your concerns. If you have a question, please contact us.

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