Predicting ‘when to do what’ in gardens is tricky

Hello valley gardeners! I find it difficult to project what is best to do for your gardens lately. My observation is that each year weather conditions and timing are not typical as we have known in the past.

Many exhibitors in rose shows tell me that their formerly “tried and true” methods of predicting when to do what aren’t working so well for them these days. For example, attempting to schedule rose shows by past weather patterns a year ahead is more luck than science. Yet the San Diego Rose Society certainly lucked out this year as they had a large show.

The abundant rain this past winter had great impact on the volume and quality of blooms. Perhaps the excess rainfall in the Temecula Valley has had the same effect on your roses – let me know!

I will give some things that you can do to get that next cycle of good blooms before it gets too hot. A minor pruning to remove old blooms will reset the cycle of blooming. Most likely not all are at the same development, so just prune back as blooms fade – don’t leave them in your garden or put them in you compost pile – make sure to put them into your green waste barrel.

Continue shaping the bush for best production by pruning the cane to an outward facing bud. Each leaf axis has a bud. Knowing this makes it easy to discern an outward facing bud. Attempt to keep canes that are no smaller than the diameter of a wooden pencil.

Continue fertilizing – hopefully you are ready for the fourth application – organic, I trust. As I always say, organics are much better for your soil, your garden and the environment.

The soil microbiology is multi-tiered, teeming with beneficial microbes which create a sustainable soil “immune system.” We’ve just leaned that a higher percentage of Potassium (the P of NPK rating) helps the plant to develop stronger roots and not suffer stress during adverse conditions. In fact, plants grown with organic fertilizers are themselves more resistant to pests and diseases.

Organic amendments (such as manure, compost or mulch) stay where you put them, break down slowly, and don’t contribute to ground water pollution (as long as you prevent run off into drains). In addition, they improve the soil food web, so in the long run you end up using less product.

The bounty of good in the form of rain that we received earlier presents an opposite hindrance of powdery mildew in most gardens. While not too obvious, keep an eye for worsening condition. Treating is dependent on your level of acceptance.

There are some organic formulas using neem oil, insecticidal soaps, baking soda, etc. Do not use a formula that treats everything. Use only a product specifically for the problem. Read the labels and use accordingly and use safety equipment to avoid exposure to contaminates if you choose chemical. One must cover up bare body parts when applying chemical treatments for disease or pests. Use approved goggles for eye protection, respirator mask, long sleeve shirt, water/chemical resistant boots and gloves. Remove clothing used immediately when treatment is completed and wash. Take a good shower to remove any possible contamination to your being.

Gardens are showing increased prevalence of Black Spot and a new pest called Chilli Thrip, which is much smaller than the Western Thrip currently in our gardens and more devastating as they eat all vegetation. Control is quite difficult and treatments are being studied. There are a few products being used which are still in research.

It is never too late to apply a thick layer of mulch. I prefer composted mulch, not course wood forest products, applied to a depth of four inches. Pine needles are also good for mulch.

I would like to just add some information for future if you add to your garden with plants grafted to root stock other than Dr Huey, which is the most used for locally grown commercial roses. Roses grafted onto Dr Huey are generally deep rooted, that is, the roots are more locally distributed in area approximately 2’x2’x2′.

Some roses are now being grown in our area that are grafted onto Fortuniana root stock, and these roses have a different root habit – their root systems are shallower but also broader, so watering is best done covering the entire bedding area verses the local zone for Dr Huey grafted roses.

Roses on Fortuniana root stock tend to grow taller and more effusively. The best way to keep an entire bed uniformly supplied with water is to apply a generous layer of mulch. It’s the single most beneficial act you can provide for your plants.

I recommend against using mulch containing wood chips of any sort. There are several reasons not to: additional nitrogen must be supplied to replace the nitrogen needed to break down the wood fibers, a mold or fungi can result which can prevent fertilizers, water and oxygen from entering the root zone. Instead, I recommend composted mulch as it is well broken down and filled with nutrients ready to be integrated into the soil by worms.

Also, a soil test kit for analyzing the soil needs could save one lots of money, energy and guess work for a fulfilling garden. Maintaining a clean garden will or can prevent many diseases, remove blooms before they drop petals onto the ground or remove soon if they do fall. Drip irrigation is the best method to provide water to each plant (use an emitter on two sides of each bush).

If you buy and plant roses grafted on Fortuniana root stock use drip line with emitters every 18″ and use multiple lines throughout the bed. Use of organic fertilizer will eventually save you money as in time less is needed as it will improve the soil components instead of reducing the elements, especially if you also add three to four inches of composted mulch every two to three years.

I have grown many varieties of roses in my gardens. Most will grow well in the Temecula Valley. However, don’t expect to have great roses during July through September when temperatures are in the high 90s. Just keep the plants well hydrated as possible and let them enter a short period of dormancy or slowed growth, not to produce blooms which will likely be of poor quality and stress the plant as well.

Some varieties I recommend are: Mr Lincoln, Outta the Blue, Easy Does It, Touch of Class, Double Delight, Joey, Gold Medal, Graham Thomas, Fragrant Cloud, Fragrant Plum, Sunsprite, Playboy, Sally Holmes, Ballerina, and Tropical Lightening.

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