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Sustaining Your Soil
by Jack Shoultz

Originally published in California Coastal Rose Society Newsletter
March, 2008

by Jack Shoultz

As you may know, there are many ways of maintaining a quality program for growing your roses. If the idea of having a quality program for growing your roses were easy, then there are fewer ways to proceed. The first component of any sensible organic program would be to ensure that the soil you plant your roses in is the best you can make it. Incorporating organic materials into your soil either prior to planting or maintaining a regular program of amending an established garden will facilitate an effective program by ensuring your soil is continuously renewed. An organic rose garden will be full of microbial activity in the soil. These microbes break down the organic matter which is turned into a form of nutrients that can be taken up by the roots of the roses.

A nutrient rich soil is what the majority of plants thrive in. Roses are heavy feeders so supplementing your soil with organic fertilizers will enhance and help maintain the program needed for quality rose bushes. Amendments will help increase the aeration and moisture retention in your soil by attaching to the particles and opening up the soils. In clay soils the particles are so closely held that the drainage and aeration is inhibited, so adding these amendments when preparing the soil will change the quality of the soil to one that has a rich, friable texture. Organic matter incorporated into the soil gives the microbial activity in the soil something to break down. This is their food and the next step in establishing strong bushes.

The growth will be strong and vigorous. Strong bushes helps the roses resist pest and disease. When the growth of the roses is steady, as in organic fertilizers, the cellular structure of the canes and leaves is more compact. By choosing organic methods of fertilizing you will not need to be as concerned about a timetable. The nutrients are in the soil and become an integral part so that they are always available to the roots. After you have incorporated organic material in your soil over a period of time, your soil will become self-sustaining. As long as you continue to renew "food" for the biomass, your soil will continue to reward your plants and you with great growth and beautiful roses. Under these circumstances, when we have so many organic options becoming available, it would seem easy to make the choice to try these methods.


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