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Simple Steps to Organic Rose Gardening – Easily and Cheaply!

Both organic gardening and roses have a reputation for being difficult. Add them together and many gardeners worry they’re taking on a gardening nightmare.

But growing roses in your organic garden needn’t be difficult. Roses are an old plant that grew long before there were chemicals and pesticides to use, and they managed to survive. There is no reason they cannot do so now. All it takes is a little knowledge, and attention.

As with all gardening, organic or otherwise, one of the main keys to success is a healthy, vibrant soil. Healthy soil is rich in nutrients, organic matter and life, generally. If you look at healthy soil you will see it teeming with worms, spiders and other insects – all a good sign. Although most gardeners tend to think that chemical fertilizers feed their soil, in fact they can kill off these insects and begin a downward spiral of soil degradation which leads to more fertilizer, poorer soil, and even more fertilizer.

Therefore before you even think of planting a bush, you first need to feed and improve your soil. (Boring and time-consuming, I know, but it really will make a difference.) Home made compost and organic matter is best for this, and can be easily made at home from your own green waste and grass clippings. It’s best to dig this into your soil at least 3 weeks prior to planting, to give the soil time to fully integrate the compost. It’s also good to understand where your soil falls on the clay-sandy continuum. Roses like free-draining conditions and if your soil is waterlogged your roses will suffer. If your soil is too clay then you can easily improve it by adding organic matter, as noted previously, and sand. This will break up the crumb structure of the soil allowing better aeration and drainage.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check the pH of your soil to understand whether it is acid or alkaline. The best growing conditions fall between a pH of 6.0 and 7.0, as most nutrients are available to the plants at this acidity. You can purchase a pH testing kit from most garden centers, or online.

Pest Control:
One of the main worries of organic gardeners is, how do I manage the pests? Roses in particular are especially vulnerable to aphids, scale and blackspot. This is where companion planting can be helpful, as both garlic and parsley can help deter predatory insects. Increasing the number of beneficial insects which feast on aphids can also be helpful. Ladybugs and lacewings are insects you want to encourage into your garden, and brightly colored flowers can be a good way to do this.

If all else fails there are a range of organic sprays you can make at home using simple ingredients such as dishwashing soap and garlic, that can help to protect your plants.

Growing roses organically is not difficult with a little knowledge, and is far cheaper without all those chemicals and sprays to buy.

Fi McMurray is a garden enthusiast and author who has been gardening organically for 10 years. She has been involved with 2 award-winning gardens at the prestigious Ellerslie International Flower Show in Auckland, New Zealand.Her latest book is “An Introduction to Successful Organic Gardening“, which joins her previous books “Successful Rose Gardening” and “Secrets to a Thriving Herb Garden“. You can find out more about Fi’s books at her website, www.fimcmurray.comFi lives north of Auckland, New Zealand, with her husband and two small children.
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