By Stan V. Griep, Consulting Rosarian, Rocky Mountain Region, American Rose Society, Member, Denver Rose Society
Just as I mentioned in my “February In The Rose Garden” article, it is important to keep an eye on soil moisture in the rose beds and gardens. If you have one, push the probe on a moisture meter down into the ground as far as possible around rosebushes in three or four locations. See what moisture readings you get. You do not want things sopping wet, just enough for the roots to stay healthy. If watering is needed, do so in the warmest part of the day so that the moisture can be taken up and dispersed by the rosebushes prior to it getting cold overnight. This will go a long way to having a glorious spring of blooms versus just a so-so showing.
Now is a good time to take stock of the rose food/fertilizer that you have on hand. If the amount is low to none, buy a bag of rose food/fertilizer along with other amendments such as kelp meal. I look for a good organic rose food or organic-based rose food/fertilizer. If you like to feed your roses some compost, moo-poo, horsey poo or alfalfa teas, this would be a good time to pick up some handy compost “tea bags” that are sold at many garden centers.
You should also take stock of any insecticides, miticides or fungicides you may need. It may be a bit early, but if your local garden centers have some planting soil mixes available, purchasing two or three bags to have on hand is not a bad idea. I look for mixes that have some alfalfa meal in the mix, as it is jam-packed with nutrients, not only for the plants but also as a soil builder. Those soil-building properties make for a happy, healthy root zone for your rosebushes and plants, and a happy, healthy root zone spells a top performing above-ground plant or bush.
And check those pruners, garden hoes and shovels. If you forgot to clean and sharpen them before putting them away for the year, now is the time to get that done. Maybe even treat yourself to some new pruners, a shovel or other garden implement. Mention what you would like to family members too, as they might just get you one as a gift for some occasion.
While out in the gardens checking soil moisture, start doing some garden cleanup, such as removing broken canes on the rosebushes or shrub branches. Pick up branches and twigs from the trees that winter winds have knocked down. In my area it is still early to do any mulch removal or replacing, or raking out leaves, as doing so too soon can cause major problems for plants given the freezing cold temps that are still possible.
Take a look at your garden areas with a look back at how they performed last year. If some things were a bit too close together, make note of plantings you need to move and where they could go. Think of it as reworking the pretty painting that was last year’s garden or landscape. Perhaps there were some shrubs, flowering plants, roses or veggies you saw in other gardens that you want to bring to yours. Now is a good time to consider where those can go and how they will fit in with your current layout. Check the growth habits of any new plantings you are considering to make sure they will fit where you would like them to, or if a new area needs to be created. All these will help calm that ravaging “spring fever” that comes upon us this time of year.
Enjoy all the phases of your gardens!
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