During late September and October, the conditioning
for winter process begins. This means allowing the spent blooms to produce
hips. Remove the petals if unsightly, but allow the calyx tube (rounded
part below the petals and sepals, commonly referrred to as the "hip")
to remain. If fertilization has occurred by the wind, an insect or a person,
the hips will not turn brown but will remain green and will begin to swell.
They may remain green but many will change color to orange or red as they
ripen and become a colorful display in October and November. Carefree
Beauty, for example, will produce beautiful hips of brilliant red which
extends down the peduncle. The gallicas are a real show with their red
and orange hips. The rose hybridizer, incidentally, will have made his
intended crosses using the first flush of blooms and normally will discontinue
crossing by July 15 or earlier, to allow plenty of time for the hips to
This may be the year also that you will
want to harvest the hips and try growing a rose from seeds. This procedure
has been described in an earlier edition of the Newsletter (May-June,
1987, p.3); however, if you do not have that issue, send me a stamped
self-addressed envelope and I will run off a copy for you. Growing roses
from seeds is another fun project which may produce a new rose from your
Conditioning roses for winter also means
pruning and winter protection which will be covered in the next issue
of the Newsletter because those activities should be taken care of during
November and December in this area.
The Newsletter has recommended liming in the
fall of the year because of the time required for lime to have any affect
on plant growth. The proper pH of the soil plays a major role in the effectiveness
of nutrients that you add with the expectation that the plant will benefit.
This subject was covered in some detail in MRS Newsletter, Nov-Dec, 1987,
Briefly, the important points are first,
of course, to know the pH of your soil, by taking measurements in various
areas of your rose garden. Measurements can be made with a pH meter available
from garden centers; by Whitman Lab Sales pH indicator strips (MRS Newsletter,
May-June,1990,p.5); or by sending soil samples to the University of Maryland,
Cooperative Extension Center (Call 666-1020, or 666-1022 for further information.)
Second, if the pH is below 6.5, which is probably the case if you have
not limed before or if you use a mulch consisting of bark, hardwood bark
or pine bark, you will want to add dolomitic lime around the bushes, scratch
the material into the soil and water in. The amount of lime to add will
depend on the pH. For example, to raise the pH from 5.5 to 6.5, you need
to apply approximately five pounds of dolomitic limestone per 100 square
feet in sandy soil or 12 pounds per 100 square feet in heavier soil with
a large amount of clay. The proper amount per bush will depend on the
pH. If it is as low as 5.5, a cup full per established hybrid tea would
be about right; if 6.0, half that amount.
The question is often raised if lime or
granular fertilizer can be placed on top of mulch already in place or
need the mulch be removed and replaced after the application of the lime
or fertilizer. The answer is that it is considerably more effective to
hand rake the mulch from around the rose plant, apply the lime or fertilizer,
as the case may be, replace the mulch and water well. On this point, during
the course of the year, mulch can ofter become packed and as a consequence
air has a difficult time penetrating the soil beneath. For this reason,
periodic cultivation is beneficial to rose plants as it is to any growing
plants. Cultivation also slows down water runoff, aids in weeding and
improves the appearance of the rose bed.
Composting is nature's way of converting garden
and kitchen wastes into a rich, crumbly humus that helps produce better
flowers and vegetables. Fall, with its abundant, readily available materi-als,
is the logical time to start a compost pile or add to an existing one.
Composting will provide the rose gardener with
organic material to enrich old rose beds or to provide the best possible
environment for roses in a newly prepared bed. Although the ideal growing
medium for roses will vary by the number of authors who address the subject,
all agree on the importance of organic material of the type produced by
the process of composting.
Some gardeners are reluctant to start a
compost pile for fear that it will be unsightly, too difficult a task
to undertake, and will be smelly. Your compost pile need not be any of
It can be placed in a remote corner of
your yard, behind the garage or tool shed or behind evergreens or shrubs
to conceal any evidence that might offend. Although it can be confined
by wire fencing, cinder block or a wood frame, a compost pile can be started
on any open ground. I have found that starting on the ground will soon
suggest the size and kind of enclosure needed for attractiveness and convenience.
Don't let an enclosure, or the lack of one, dissuade you from starting.
The materials for composting are endless:
leaves, grass clippings, flower and vegetable garden residue, straw, sawdust,
paper, and kitchen scraps, including egg shells, coffee grounds etc..
It has been noted often, that we very willingly give the trash man materials
which could be turned into gold for our own gardens.
The material included in the compost pile
is food for a complex group of microorganisms. Decay of the material results
from the action of these microorganisms. The editors of Organic Gardening
compiled a booklet entitled "Make Compost in 14 Days," (Rodale
Press,Inc., 1984, Emmaus, PA 18049) which covers the subject of composting
admirably and makes a positive case that it can be done very quickly.
They contend that experiments with composting throughout the world have
demonstrated that nearly any plant or animal waste (except wood chips
and bone) can be made to rot in two weeks. The need for a process with
such speed would depend, to some measure, on the quantity of compost needed
and the space available for composting. In any event, the booklet referred
to will be most useful to anyone interested in the subject. Drop a line
to the address above. The primary ingredients
of a compost pile are leaves and grass clippings. The pile should be started
with a layer of leaves about four inches thick onto which grass clippings
and other material is layered. The layers are alternated until the pile
is still at a manageable level i.e. three to four feet. Some gardeners
dissolve a commercial compost starter in water and sprinkle the mixture
over the pile. It is not necessary to water the pile if a plastic material
is placed over it. The finished pile heats up within twenty four hours
or so to about 100o F as the process of decay gets underway and will ultimately
generate interior heat as much as 150 to 160o F. This much heat will pasteurize
the compost and is sufficient to kill almost all weed seeds.
Periodically, the pile should be turned,
the more often (i.e., every three days) the quicker composting is completed.
If a good compost pile is turned properly each three days, after two weeks
the job is done and the compost should be dark and crumbly with only some
leaf parts and egg shells still recognizable. The pile will have decreased
in size by about a half.
Turning a compost pile takes some time
and effort to perform properly. In theory one wishes to turn the interior
material to the outside and to fold the top and outside material into
the center. The gray matter on partially composted material around the
center is a fungus growth which thrives in the cooler areas. This material
should be turned into the center. The frequency and thoroughness of turning
and the composition of the pile determines the time of completion of the
composting process. The clue to completion is the uniform composition
of the pile and the fact that the temperature of the pile is uniformly
about 100o F.
The originator of fast composting, Victor
Dalpadado from Sri Lanka, after completing the original experimentation,
laid down certain rules for fast-acting compost. These rules are predicated
on the observation that unturned material takes a year to compost and
turning once or twice only takes six months. For faster and better action,
the gardener should:
- Vary the materials to make a balanced food supply for the microorganisms.
- Mix the material thoroughly instead of making layers.
- Make many scratches and cuts in the stems and leaves to provide entry
- Turn thoroughly for aeration.
- Maintain ample moisture.
What has been written here is sufficient to
get the uninitiated started in composting; however, as gardeners gains
experience they will want to experiment with materials and techniques
to develop their own methods consistent with their individual needs. For
example, the composting process is facilitated by providing the microorganisms
with a balanced diet of carbohydrates and protein. Protein wastes are
materials like green vegetation, kitchen scraps and grass clippings; carbohydrates
come from dry, fibrous former plant parts like leaves, sawdust, straw
and paper. Experimental composters have developed a formula for the percentage
of carbohydrate to protein material that is best. They speak of a carbon
to nitrogen ratio to express the desirable carbohydrate to protein mix
for best results. In this regard, a ratio of 25 or 30 to one is considered
essential for fast composting. This means that leaves at 50 to one combined
with grass clippings at 20 to one, would result in a mixture with a ratio
of 35 to one. To reduce the C:N ratio, more grass clippings by weight
need be added. The booklet referred to above provides a table which shows
the carbon/nitrogen ratios of various organic materials.