Tuesday’s Tips — Rose Tea & Weed Control

Spring has sprung in the West and it’s on its way in the East — although with that crazy weather you might find it hard to believe. This week’s tips focus on roses and weeds.

In the Garden

MB: Whip up a batch of my version of Rose Tea for a quick boost. I make this tea for roses, but irises love this as well. In my garden the blooms are huge and plants just thrive on it. I usually make a large garbage can full of this and let ferment for a week. (Be warned — it smells really bad! )

This recipe is for a 5 gallon pail for those who don’t want to have a surplus of stinky tea in their backyard. Multiply as needed for larger quantities.

Rose Tea
2-3 cups alfalfa pellets or alfalfa meal with no salt added  (inexpensive at an AG store or farmers co-op)
5 tablespoons fish emulsion
1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed extract or 1/2 cup kelp powder  (I use Stress X)
1/2 cup Epsom salts (buy it at the drug store — way cheaper than at the garden center)
3 tablespoons molasses (supposed cut smell down)

Mix all the ingredients in the pail then fill with water to the top. Stir, cover and let sit for a week. Feed roses twice a month with tea, about 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon for each plant. The sludge that remains on the bottom of the pail can be spread around plants. Scratch it in a little to prevent a crust from forming.

Another quick rose tip: bury chopped banana peels and eggshells around your roses.

Weed Control

B: With the rains come the unwelcome abundance of weeds. Knock down the first spring flush and you’ll have less to deal with later on. Knock down the lesser second and third flushes and you’ll be living easy the rest of the summer. Well, I’ll be honest, it’ll be easier. With weeds it’s all relative, but less is ALWAYS better.

Annual weeds reproduce exclusively by seed, so the best time to control them is at germination or shortly thereafter, but especially before pollination. After they’ve dropped their seeds, you’re in for a whole lot more weeds.

Perennial weeds are harder to control. Hand weeding in early spring will eliminate a lot of them, but you have to be sure to get all of the roots and runners.

These are good IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices for controlling weeds and it’ll make it much less likely that you’ll have to resort to chemical means of control later on.

A good resource for identifying weeds and methods of controlling them is the University of California IPM site. You’ll find weeds that are common in gardens across the country, but if you’re in a state other than California and you don’t see what you’re looking for, I suggest going to your local university cooperative extension’s website.

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