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sidos_house

A few questions from reading Right Rose Right Place

sidos_house
9 years ago

I checked out Peter Schneider's book from the library this winter as recommended reading for a person learning about roses. Some questions from my reading have stayed with me all through the summer and I was hoping for some guidance/clarification from the members of this forum. I don't have the book anymore so my memory of what he wrote may be a little skewed.

1. Rose slugs/Sawfly. He listed this as a common pest rose-growers deal with and this pest is pretty bad in my garden. I was shocked to read his comment that it isn't normally a problem except in gardens that are not maintained properly/are ill-kept. What does that mean? I clean up rose debris and cut stuff back in the fall so the frost can do its work, is there something else I should be doing so that my garden is not ill-kept? Or was his comment more pertinent to his colder climate?

2. Alfalfa. He listed this as a possible food for roses but mentioned that it left deposits of something in the soil. Help me -- what was it that alfalfa left behind and is it something to be concerned about?

3. Hardwood mulch, nitrogen, and corn meal. He discussed options for mulching roses and pointed out that hardwood mulch was effective but took nitrogen from the soil and recommended using corn meal to counteract the nitrogen leaching. I had never used corn meal before but took his advice and sprinkled it on a big new bed before I laid the hardwood mulch in late July. (In the winter I had mulched with three to four inches of horse manure but it was not enough to suppress the weeds.) In this bed I had planted a couple hundred foxglove seedlings and some gallicas and damasks. Everything had been growing like wildfire and the roses to my amazement were not only getting pretty huge for new bands but were also staying clean. Three weeks after the cornmeal and mulch, my foxgloves started shrinking and two-thirds of them died. The roses began to rust horribly. I know the problem could be many factors, but could it have been the fault of the corn meal, which I also understand can be used as a pre-emergent and maybe had some negative effect? Some things you read make it sound like a cure-all but I haven't heard of it causing damage. Can anyone tell what I did wrong?

Fortunately, the foxgloves that survived are beginning to rebound a little and the roses are still putting out new growth and that is clean and staying clean so far.

I hope this isn't too much for one thread and I appreciate any responses.

Comments (57)

  • michaelg
    9 years ago

    Each kind of sawfly has a narrow range of hosts. I think the European rose slug only eats roses. Since the larvae burrow into the soil to pupate, I think it would be much easier to control the exposed larvae. Just patrol regularly and wipe the underside of damaged leaves with your thumb. Large shrubs and climbers may need to be sprayed. The sawflies do like to lay eggs on shiny-leaved climbers of wichurana heritage. Also, don't discourage wasps from nesting in your eaves, and don't use insecticide unnecessarily.

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Saw fly may over winter in debris, but you should see the gardens I spoke of. Leaves from the trees are even blown away or raked up so nothing remains on the ground. It's down right obsessive. It always amused me how everything considered "organic" was removed and sent off to the landfill, then replaced with "organics" in plastic bags. The point being, in the right climate and conditions, the blamed things remain year round never requiring anything to "over winter" in.

    No, Spinosad is an organic bacterial (as long as the brand purchased was produced through an "organic" method) which needs to be sprayed every two weeks to control the listed insects. Yes, it can be toxic to bees, but there are very few "insecticides" which aren't. It isn't systemic nor should it be applied to the soil. My personal preference, and it is my "preference", not a condemnation of the products nor anyone who finds them easier and more effective to use, is not to use anything systemic. I don't know how long they remain in the soil, nor how much potential risk I run of absorbing them through my hands when working in that treated soil. So, I just don't use them whenever possible. The rare occasion I do, I make sure never to have to handle the soil in which they have been poured.

    Mention was made about roses under trees being more susceptible to saw fly, possibly due to their being "stressed." I guess that could be a factor, but my impression has been it was as much due to the conditions under trees being more conducive to their proliferation. Like aphids, they prefer more "green house conditions", cooler, milder, more humid than many sunny situations. Shaded areas are frequently more like that than exposed, sunny spots are, particularly here where the general conditions do not favor their existence. As I said, here in my garden, I only find them in very sheltered spots and only in very mild, "green house-like" weather. Kim

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  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Kim, thanks so much for this thoughtful and considerate response. I only learned what a systemic was this year! I've never used one before and what you say makes sense. This year I've focused on trying to develop my soil and drainage and do what I can to keep my roses healthy without giving them "medicine." I've seen a vast improvement in blackspot but the insect pressure never lets up. I'm looking ahead to next year and the first thing I struggle with is the rose slug. It seemed if they are hatching or whatever they do on the ground under my roses that there might be something I could use to lessen their numbers. I was definitely thinking an organic product.

    We do have a healthy number of wasps but have not achieved any sort of balance as far as rose slugs are concerned. And I'm worried that they're going to get worse each year. I tried insecticidal soap this spring and the squishing. Michael was very helpful then too. But it felt like a losing battle. For example, I would be working outdoors all day on a Saturday and I'd visit my very little Perle d'Or. She'd have a dozen rose slugs on her. I'd squish them and go back to what I was doing. An hour later, I'd find nine more on her. On and on all day long. She had no leaves this spring. And it's a testimony to her wonderful spirit that she has two new baby canes this fall and is blooming her generous heart out.

  • Kippy
    9 years ago

    You must have more rose slugs there than here, but I can relate to how you feel when your special new roses all look like a mad hole puncher was let loose in your garden.

    Last year was horrible, our first year with lots of new roses. I hated to take close photos of the plants because of all the holes.

    But this year we have wasps galore, too many for me personally, but they spend their days in the roses and flowers and suddenly, the leaves are mostly fine. I think I put nature out of balance with the influx of plants, the wasps are also out of balance this year, but bet next year the numbers reduce.

    I realize I spend hours and hours on mulching, composting etc, but only minutes on the actual roses themselves (and that is usually just deadheading)

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    That's usually how pests and predators work. It rains well this year. Next, due to the abundance of food, rodents and insects proliferate. The following year, due to the increase in their food sources, the coyotes, snakes, hawks, etc. and all the "good bugs" begin swelling their ranks to make use of the over abundance of their food supplies. There is always a lag between "food" and what eats it. Adding many new plants in a short period is pretty much the same thing. Some saw fly came in with your plants, others arrived to feast on the smorgasbord. Now, the predators are increasing and finding the feast you've provided. They'll catch up, to a point. If you can't live with SOME insect damage, you'll have to spray to kill them all. Man is the only predator which eliminates its food source. Bugs always leave some to reproduce so there is always something to eat. Kim

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    That's a really interesting point, Kippy and Kim. I remember noticing that the first year in my vegetable garden I had almost no insect damage. I was actually able to grow that beautiful Romanesco broccoli! The next year was very different, bug-wise. I wondered later if I hadn't invited the bugs in by planting the garden.

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    You did! LOL! No food for them to eat, no bugs. Kim

  • windeaux
    9 years ago

    Alfalfa happens to be a plant that is very rich in the trace element boron -- so rich, in fact, that land where alfalfa is grown quickly becomes boron-deficient unless other crops are sown in rotation. Due to boron depletion, farmers who plant successive alfalfa crops are almost invariably forced to replenish their soil with the use of specially formulated fertilizers that are high in boron.

    IMO, Schneider's warning observation should be taken as wise advice, whether the alfalfa used by the gardener is rabbit food or not. Any of the essential elements, when out of balance, can be detrimental to plant life; and trace elements, when they become more than "trace", can be every bit as toxic as the overuse of any one of the "big 3". They're categorized as TRACE elements for a very good reason.

    BTW . . . I can't cite a specific source or authority at the moment, but Schneider is neither the only, nor the first to caution rosarians about the overuse of alfalfa.

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    I know -- I'm a total dummy :) Head in the clouds and all that!!

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Windeaux, thank you so much for touching on this subject. I know a lot of us use alfalfa and that comment of PS's really stuck with me. I'd like to hear more about what others think too. Would anyone feeling comfortable commenting on what might be considered overboard? I try to rotate what I feed my roses (I feed them monthly) but I do use alfalfa a few times a year.

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    Sidos,
    Boron deficiency is described in the ARS consulting rosarian manual as affecting mature foliage first. It manifests as a browning of mature leaves at the leaf edge, separated from the green tissue with a distinctive pink margin, brown, irregular spots, then eventual leaf drop.

    I found this picture of Dr. Manners of a leaf manifesting boron toxicity. he says it is also related to a really low pH. I learn something all the time!

    No one has answered your question of how much alfalfa is too much, and I don't know, but I thought something we could be on the lookout for is boron toxicity if we use alfalfa. Or if our pH is on the really low side.

    Gean

    Here is a link that might be useful: Dr. Manner's pic of boron toxicity in a leaf w/comments

  • cath41
    9 years ago

    I have fertilized with alfalfa twice a year for the last two years, sprinkling it over the surface with higher concentration near the rose. The roses have grown larger and bloomed more and in general appeared healthier. We have heavy clay soil, nearly neutral but a lot of calcium in our water which is therefore alkaline. I am not arguing, just reporting. But I noticed that a tea rose, White Maman Cochet seemed to decline after alfalfa. Has anyone else noticed a correlation, that is, that tea roses do not like alfalfa but many other roses, like albas, bourbons, rugosas and polyanthas do? My experience here is limited and I would appreciate any input.

    Cath

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Cath, does there seem to be any correlation between whether the roses which seemed to like alfalfa were budded on other roots? It's possible the ones which liked what you gave them shared common roots and/or ancestries, while the Tea didn't, unless all the treated roses were own root. Kim

  • cath41
    9 years ago

    Kim,

    All the treated roses were own root.

    Cath

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Thanks, Cath. One possibility down! LOL! Might you be able to give some more specific symptoms indicating White Maman Cochet's decline? They may give some better indications of what in the alfalfa it didn't like. I think I remember reading something recently about alfalfa and boron, but can't find it. I know boron is an issue locally, and it looks as if some of the foliage issues I'm seeing might be boron toxicity, comparing what I see in the yard to Dr. Manner's photos of it. There haven't been any real rains to flush minerals through the soil, so anything that comes out of the hose remains. I'm sure it's getting like an old houseplant saucer, full of sediments from everything left behind. A number of the plants are definitely "complaining". Kim

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Thanks, everyone, for continuing this discussion about alfalfa and boron. Gean, that was extremely helpful! Thank you. It's a good start to know what to be on the lookout for. I'm not sure if this is something that comes up very often.

    Cath, I have heavy clay too but have only been using alfalfa since this growing season. I have been SUPER happy with the results. Annalyssa, in her thread for suggestions on white and tall, asked me about my feeding regime and that was partly the reason I brought this subject up. I described to her the watered-down "smoothies" I made for my roses containing alfalfa as well as bananas, coffee grounds, and the occasional other ingredients such as egg shells and cooking water from vegetables. But I warned her that, as a novice, there might be drawbacks to my feeding methods that I wasn't aware of. In my garden, a week or two after I feed my roses with this concoction I am rewarded with beautiful new leaves, laterals, and very, very often promising shoots near the base of the rose. For me, this happens both on my DA roses grafted on Dr. Huey and my new own-root roses. However, you make an interesting point about the tea family. I have three teas so far and while I haven't noticed any adverse effects, I am somewhat inclined to say that mine have not responded as vigorously to the alfalfa smoothies as other classes. But I will have to monitor them a bit more closely with that in mind.

    What I gleaned from Peter Schneider's comment was that in most cases it takes several years for the boron toxicity from alfalfa to occur. This worries me when I imagine nurturing a rose for four, five, six years until becomes the rose of my dreams and then begins to languish because I poisoned the soil through my ignorance. All day I have been wondering how much is too much and I wonder if one factor might not be what one's soil is like to begin with. I cannot begin to try to guess how the soil's chemical makeup plays a part-- the way they all interact is still beyond my grasp and may always be beyond my grasp but more like light, sandy soils may be able to flush the boron out easier whereas it might stick around longer in heavy clay like mine. I hope to hear more input. I am beginning to think my three or four applications a year could be "overboard."

  • Kippy
    9 years ago

    Make sure you read the notes on Malcolm's photos, he says when the soil pH is too low, in the photo he says it was 4.9.

    For many of us we could not reach pH 4.9 with out replacing our soil.

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Kim, I thought about you today and your earlier comments in this thread when I went out to tie up a Caroubier that I bought from Vintage this spring. All the leaves had been stripped -- except on one cane :)

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Thank you? LOL! Kim

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Yes, thank you :) Your advice and guidance is always helpful. I should have said, "stripped by caterpillars." It also made me wonder if it wasn't part of Mother Nature's sometimes frustrating cycle. Here, at least, most of the roses will be going dormant shortly. If the caterpillars didn't make use of the leaves, they'd just be shriveling up and going to waste. That was my attempt at not getting upset.

    Hi, Kippy :) Thanks for pointing that out. I hope someone can explain the relationship of the low ph and boron and alfalfa. I'd be delighted not to have to worry about it!

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Oh, OK, thank you! It could be possible that's part of the plan Nature has for "winter protection." May not seem that way to us, but if it works that way, it most likely is. It's nice that it helps us not to feel as though we "failed", doesn't it? Kim

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Well, I don't know but I am trying to see it that way :) At least they left that one cane. Hopefully it won't be tonight's midnight snack.

    "Bugs always leave some to reproduce so there is always something to eat."

  • jaxondel
    9 years ago

    My questions to Cath41: Where in zone 6a do you garden, and what other tea roses do you grow successfully?

    It seems to me that no one here has enough information on Sidos-House's specific situation and conditions to give advice on the use of alfalfa. Not only soil pH, but soil composition should be taken into account. It's up to Sidos-House to have a soil test/soil analysis. The amount of boron naturally present in soil varies radically from one locale to another, and that factor alone would have a significant impact on how quickly boron toxicity would impact roses. Drainage would also be a crucial factor -- as would any number of other cultural issues, including companion plants and/or other plants grown in close proximity to roses.

    As regards this alfalfa question, I'm convinced that moderation is the key -- as it is with everything else in life. Many gardeners seem to assume that there can never be too much of a good thing. Its alfalfa meal in the planting hole, its alfalfa tea at regular intervals throughout the season, and -- just for good measure -- its more alfalfa meal and/or pellets scratched into the soil from time to time. And, more often than not, in addition to the alfalfa overload, there's all manner of other ferilizers, brews, potions and (of course) bananas.

    Personally, I'm of the strong opinion that the real key to success is soil pH pure and simple. Maintaining the proper pH is every bit as important as applying fertilizers (or growth "stimulants" like alfalfa) -- and probably MUCH more important.

  • cath41
    9 years ago

    Jaxondel,

    I live near Dayton, Ohio on what is called Miamian Soil. It is 8-10" of top soil with very heavy clay subsoil very high in calcium over limestone rock. the clay is deep enough that I have never encountered limestone bedrock on this property. This type of soil covers most of Ohio into Indiana and some of Illinois. The limestone is due to the fact that it was once covered by a sea which is evidenced by the trilobites found embedded in the rock.

    I have not grown tea roses successfully. La Biche lasted 2 winters and the White Maman Cochet has lasted one. The winter was hard on it. It was about half the size in June that it had been the preceding fall. It may now be dead, possibly in part due to the alfalfa. I plan to try White Maman Cochet again but wait until it has filled a 5 gallon pot before I plant it out. I had bought a Devoniensis and the blooms were heavenly but sanity prevailed and I gave it to a family member in a warmer zone where it will have a chance to live.

    As to pH: I sometimes mix peat with the soil when planting and do mulch with pine bark these help balance the alkalinity as does alfalfa. It is just that the WMC, in particular seemed to take a sudden turn for the worse after each application of alfalfa, not that she was thriving before the application.

    Cath

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    Just a comment about pH and organics as an example of what I've seen here in my garden.

    There is an area of my garden, a terraced area, that has a pH of 6.3, which is perfect for roses, from what I read. I'd also been using organics only in that bed. Roses would not grow well in that area.

    A soil test showed soil low in calcium and potassium, but the thing that really showed me why my roses wouldn't grow well there is the inability of the soil in that bed to hold onto nutrients, shown by the soil test as a CEC of 6.3.

    I knew that water ran through the area quickly, but it hadn't dawned on me that nutrients were running through just as quickly and I needed to fertilize twice as often there as other places.

    I have not used alfalfa in a couple of years as I couldn't tell there was any benefit to it. This year I also did not use any manure/fish emulsion and have switched to synthetics with shredded leaves/wood chips as my main organic mulch/soil additive.

    The soil warms up here very slowly and it has been taking too long for the organics that worked so well in the south to become available to the plants. I owe Kim Rupert a debt of thanks for telling me that nitrogen conversion from organics is dependent on soil temps. That helped me understand why my roses weren't growing as well as I though they should in all areas of my garden. Here, air temperatures might not reach 70-75 degrees until the beginning or middle of July, much less soil temperatures. So I am experimenting with using synthetics w/my wood/leaf mulches for a couple of years to see what happens.

    From looking at that chart that shows availability of nutrients at various pH levels, I can see that 6 to 7 pH renders most nutrients to roses available. The roses can't uptake what's not there, even if the pH is perfect. That sounds like a 'duh' lesson, but I have realized I need to be more conscious of making sure my roses get enough nutrients, taking into account how fast the soil leeches and the soil temperatures as well. In that terraced area it was sorely lacking in nitrogen and potassium, which leech quickly anyway.

    I used almost exclusively organics of alfalfa, manure and wood chips in Alabama and found they worked well. Here, I have had trouble with that, because of the cooler temperatures, I think. There are a lot of variables in play and I am not sure there are too many hard and fast rules except that roses like to be fed and watered.

    I found this on the Paul Zimmerman site and while it's geared toward the Washington DC area, there are some things I've been able to pull out of it. Maybe it will help some others, too, especially the guidelines on pounds of nutrients/8 month period and Appendix 2. All of it is interesting to think about, anyway.

    Here is a link that might be useful: fertilizing

    This post was edited by harborrose on Sun, Sep 15, 13 at 13:54

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    ps, on that link referenced above in my comment, there is some info on Superthrive, which seems to be the same growth hormone that is in alfalfa. That was new info for me as well; I am going to try it next year. Gean

  • cath41
    9 years ago

    Thanks, Jean, that info on Super Thrive could be very helpful.

    P.S. I also mix in green sand and a little bone meal in the planting hole.

    Cath

  • Campanula UK Z8
    9 years ago

    There have been lots of quite amazing studies done regarding phyto-remediation -that is, literally repairing the soil by using plants to remove heavy metals and pollutants such as selenium (fert. run-off) in wetlands and boron from mining applications. Most famously, this concept has been used around Chernobyl and Fukushima. Regarding the boron, there are several native species which demonstrate massive tolerance to boron. These plants are grown and then harvested and disposed of - having removed a degree of contaminents from the soil. A truly fascinating concept which has a basic simplicity I find utterly appealing. Hopeless with links but a simple internet search on phyto-remediation will bring up numerous abstracts.

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Thanks, all, for continuing this discussion.

    Gean, thank you! The link you've sent to Paul Zimmerman's guide is very interesting. I've saved the pdf so that I can use it as a reference. It has plenty of information that could be useful to anyone, anywhere. The feeding schedules and his later comments, too, are interesting as well as the duration of the type of fertilizer. I wonder if that duration is true based on the typical soil in DC or if it is more generalized. I'll have to look at the document and website more closely. I also enjoyed reading about your experiences. It's interesting about the soil temperatures and nutrient uptake. It makes sense once someone points it out but is not the kind of thing that would occur everyone. Not me anyway.

    Thanks too, Jaxondel, for your comments. I completely agree with you about about moderation and, it's true, ultimately it's my personal responsibility to figure out how much is the right amount of alfalfa to use in my unique situation, as well as how many bananas, and what specific ingredients to include in the potions I brew for my garden! Still soil chemistry is a difficult subject for many of us and although we all have individual garden situations, it's nice to be able seek out guidance from those with more experience and knowledge. Thanks so much!

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Thanks, Camp. That's an interesting perspective. I remember seeing something on television a while back on that topic. I didn't remember until you brought it up. I wonder how they dispose of the toxic plants. It's an amazing world.

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    Sidos, you're welcome.

    Paul Zimmerman, himself, though, doesn't use that plan. He uses manure with a wood chip mulch over the manure and I don't think does anything else in his garden. In his warm climate that works great for him. I wish it worked great for me.

    I also don't think that my once bloomers need as much as the repeaters do.

    Good luck with your garden; I have loved the pics I've seen of it. Gean

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    You are always positive and helpful, Gean. From the beginning, I've appreciated your posts whether or not I participate in the thread. Janet (floridarosez9) has also suggested to me that my best option is probably to focus on manure. (Though, in that conversation we were discussing my battle with drainage.) I appreciate, truly, the simplest method. As I gain experience and more maturity in my gardens, I am sure I will discover the right balance. There is something in me that balks (sp?) at getting too scientific (whether roses or other garden entitites) unless it's necessary. Thank you for your help and for your encouragement :)

    You have to be right about the once-bloomers -- they really have many advantages.

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    But wait! That doesn't mean I'm giving up my alfalfa, bananas, and coffee smoothies (or potions) for good. Oh no, I'll cut it down to maybe twice a year.

    I'm addicted.

    :)

    Have a great week. Thanks, everyone.

  • Poorbutroserich Susan Nashville
    9 years ago

    Very interesting conversation with great info offered by everyone!
    As for organic/synthetics...I think of organics as soil improvement and synthetics as "bloom" improvement. LOL.
    I don't notice "quick" results from organics but I know they are helping the soil. I do notice "quick" results from synthetics and like their effect on my roses. I wish I could get "quick" results from organics as I'd much prefer to use them.
    Kim, I have to laugh about the garden where all vegetation is swept away and hauled to the landfill so that bagged organics can be purchased and brought in...sounds like my neighborhood (buy not MY garden. LOL).
    Susan

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Plural, Susan. It is the standard operating procedure for the vast majority of "gardeners" and "landscape maintenance" companies here. I fought with the "gardener" here for the longest time (before I let him go without replacement) NOT to blow the leaves away, nor rake them up to go into the trash. There is NO "top soil". The climate and water won't support the vegetation required to provide the necessary "food" nor the sustained bacterial action necessary to digest it. Permitting them to remain in the flower beds and planters has helped not only mulch, but begin generating some improvements. It makes me insane the amount of organic material we dump into both landfills and municipal "green waste" programs, much of which never gets properly utilized. Kim

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    I turned 60 this year and just bought a new gas powered chipper shredder to replace my 30 year old one, a MacKissic. I have wondered if I lost my mind spending that much money on a machine that will outlive me by many years but I can't stand to waste the branches and leaves that this forest generates. So all of that gets shredded and it's what goes on top of my soil here. Over a long time and a lot of rain it turns into gorgeous stuff, so I keep shredding and chipping. My dear husband, Don, told me that if we didn't shred and chip it we'd eventually be surrounded by mountains of the stuff and we'd starve to death because we couldn't get out. I think he said that though because he knew it would make me crazy not to make mulch. That's what happens when you've been married 37 years, someone knows you pretty well, lol.

    You are very kind, Sidos. That was a very nice thing to say. This place is populated with a great many very kind and knowledgeable people. Gean

    This post was edited by harborrose on Wed, Sep 18, 13 at 0:26

  • Kippy
    9 years ago

    We have yet to try out own new little electric chipper, but those are the special chips to use in the veggies.

    Kim-based on what we put in the green waste bin....I don't want it back.

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Congratulations, Gean, and happy birthday! You wear it well! I don't blame you, Kippy. The very little bit I put out at home, I would never want back, either! Kim

  • Campanula UK Z8
    9 years ago

    ah chippers - we spent more on ours than we did on the pick-up truck.....but, in its loud, shiny redness - it is a Charterhouse - and its furious, over-the-top horsepower allocation- it is our pride and joy.

    One annoying caveat - it simply sulks when fed with sweetcorn or pea haulms.....but a three inch branch - no probs.

    It's getting to that time of year when we run it almost constantly.

  • sidos_house
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Happy Birthday, Gean!!

    We definitely could use a chipper here with an acre and half of Wood. I'm glad you splurged on it, Gean. Maybe in a couple years, I'll be able to look into finding one too! And, Camp, from what I've seen of your enchanted Wood, you NEED a chipper. Perhaps even more than the pickup truck, thus spending more was absolutely sensible. :)

    I hope your new chipper works out for you, Kippy. My neighbor did do some chipping for me of a bunch of cedar branches that we took down when we put up our deer fence. I used them in our fall kitchen garden hoping the cedar mulch would also help keep away the bugs from my little green things. .:)

  • Poorbutroserich Susan Nashville
    9 years ago

    Happy Birthday Gean and many Happy Returns! I don't have enough to chip or shred in a machine. I just deadhead and scatter petals...LOL. Blackspotted leaves get pulled off, put into my pocket, and into the trash.
    Susan

  • michaelg
    9 years ago

    About a concern voiced above about low CEC (low ability to hold nutrients): The cure for that is high-quality clay found in plain kitty litter, an inch and a half dug in 12" deep. The nuggets will dissolve after being wet for a while. Old organic matter also helps.

  • rosefolly
    9 years ago

    I use alfalfa as my chief fertilizer, other than compost, but I only use it once a year. Given that my pH is around 8 I certainly do not have to worry about it being too low! Still, I will watch for that leaf pattern.

    As for sawfly, at this point I'm chiefly seeing it in potted roses and so far I have mostly ignored it. It will be time to replace the soil this winter (a truly dreaded task) which ought to deal with the problem for now. I hope so anyway. But I am just back from trip back east. I noticed that the two potted roses my sister has on her deck, 'Lullaby' and 'Little White Pet', had the kind of leaf damage I would associate with sawfly, though we could not find any actual creatures. I was at a loss to advise her as to what she should do.


    Rosefolly

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    Thanks, Michael. I have remembered that you've mentioned that before for sandy soils and have been thinking about adding it into those beds. I think I read that someone has been using "nitrogen-enriched" kitty litter with good success. Do you know a reason why that's not a good idea? It seems like it would be a source of cheap nitrogen, anyway.

    Rosefolly, as I've looked at the nutrient availability chart related to pH there's something else that happens with boron at high pH. I think I understand that at low pH plants uptake too much boron but at high pH boron become inaccessible so you get a deficiency. But I don't quite understand because at pH 9 and above it looks like it uptakes well again.

    Here's a link to one of those pH nutrient-availability charts.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

    Here is a link that might be useful: pH nutrient chart

    This post was edited by harborrose on Thu, Sep 19, 13 at 20:34

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    "it's my pride and joy" camp said. I can definitely relate, Suzie.

  • michaelg
    9 years ago

    There are some nasty germs in cat feces, and excessive salt in urine. I really don't know how serious these issues might be. But remember, you will sometimes be using a bare hand to pull a weed, etc.

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    I've read repeatedly not to use cat and dog feces in composts so I never have. The use of "used" kitty litter is the first I'd ever heard it being done; I have never checked into why those pet feces are so much worse than those from other types of animals. Maybe because cats and dogs are carnivores and most other types of manures gardeners used are from herbivores.

    Anyway, thanks for the input, Michael, much appreciated.

    Sidos, sorry for the way this thread veered off-topic . Gean

    This post was edited by harborrose on Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 17:09

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    I read something the other day about a bacteria or parasite in cat urine and feces which infects mice, taking away their fear of the smell of the cat stuff. It reportedly causes physical changes in the mouse brain. Supposedly, it actually makes them like it, so they lose the fear of the cat, making them more likely to be eaten. When the cat eats the mouse, whatever it is, is replenished in the cat's gut where it reproduces and is expelled in its waste. The article said nothing is known about any effects on humans, but then stated anyone with impaired immune systems should avoid cat excrement and urine, then pointed out "such as pregnant women." I don't use pet stuff to fertilize but I do put as much as possible in all mole and gopher holes. Kim

  • harborrose_pnw
    9 years ago

    I hadn't heard of what you read, Kim, so I went googling a little and found a number of articles on the effect of parasites in cat feces on the brains of humans . Here's one from "The Atlantic Monthly". I don't know if it's all true, but certainly interesting reading. I am glad Sam is an indoor cat, but I think I'll skip recycling his litter. Gean

    Here is a link that might be useful: The Atlantic Monthly, article on cat feces

    This post was edited by harborrose on Sun, Sep 22, 13 at 19:47

  • roseseek
    9 years ago

    Scary possibilities. I guess that helps solidify my pleasure/relief that the house cat here is "finally useful". Kim

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