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I suggest alfalfa meal. There is an art to rose pruning. First, time it right. Prune in spring right before branches have begun to leaf out. Forty-five degree angle branch cuts should be made with clean, sharp bypass pruners. Also, be sure to invest in a good pair or rose gloves to keep thorns from your hands and arms. Start by removing any dead or unhealthy looking branch material. Next, cut back any crossing or large, ungainly branches that negatively impact the overall shape of the plant. Finally, promote air flow by pruning out any small, densely arranged branches.

Good foliar airflow will helps keep foliage dry, which helps protect plants from certain foliar diseases. Read more about good rose pruning techniques by clicking here. A plant with Rose Rosette Disease RRD , an incurable viral disease that requires plants be removed to stop the spread.

Catching early signs of pest and disease damage can help you tackle small problems before they become big problems. Powdery mildew white spots on leaf tops , downy mildew purple, red, or brown spots on leaves , black spot black spots on leaf tops and bottoms , rust orange bumps on leaf bottoms and tops , and anthracnose red or brown spots that turn gray or white in the center are the most common foliar diseases cause by fungi.

The best practice is to remove disease foliage immediately, in addition to removing foliage that may have fallen to the ground. Keeping plants physically clean will do wonders. Photo courtesy of David Austin Roses. Viral diseases are a different matter.

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Leaf and branch distortions, leaf line streaks, unexplained leaf curl and mosaic patterns are the surest signs that your roses carry virus. Unfortunately, viral diseases cannot be cured, so the best action is to remove infected plants entirely. This is most imperative with rose rosette disease , which spreads and kills roses fast. Most insect pests love roses as much as we do. Some of the most common and destructive pests include Japanese beetles skeletonize foliage , rose aphids suck leaf juices from new growth and flowers , spider mites suck leaf juices from mature leaf undersides , and thrips attack flowers in bud causing bloom distortion.

Several organic solutions are available for their management see below. Nutrient deficiencies are common in roses but easily remedied with recommended doses of a good, OMRI Listed rose fertilizer. A great hybrid tea is Hypnotized!

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There are lots of effective, environmentally friendly rose-care products to choose from. Both are reliable and safe.

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Early applications of insecticidal soap, dormant horticultural oil, or neem oil will help tackle problems with aphids, spider mites and even thrips. As a protective measure, it is always wise to treat roses with dormant horticultural oil early in the season before plants leaf out. Larger pests, like Japanese beetles, are best picked off by hand and squashed or thrown in a bucket of water.

In years when populations are really high, smaller roses can be protected with summer-weight insect row cloth. Follow these rose care guidelines, and you will have a beautiful rose garden. Your roses may still have thorns, but they will look and smell sweet through the season. Nothing is more gratifying than a big tomato harvest in the summer season! Tomatoes are the most popular warm season crop, coming in loads of colorful, tasty varieties for gardeners to try. It pays to grow your own from seed, because they are easy and inexpensive to raise and homegrown summer tomatoes taste better.

It takes around six to eight weeks to grow tomatoes from seed to ready-to-plant seedlings.

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Start seeds indoors for best results. In 5 to 12 days your tomato seeds should germinate. A heat mat for seed starting will dramatically hasten germination. Click here for detailed seed-starting instructions. The true leaves, which are feathery and divided, appear in 2 to 3 days; at this point feed seedlings with a diluted, water-soluble tomato fertilizer.

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Keep the soil moist but not wet. Indoor grown seedlings are very tender, have weak stems and need time to adjust to full sun. If directly planted outdoors they will develop leaf burn, so they need to be hardened off for at least a week before planting. Hardening off means acclimating seedlings from their cushy indoor growing conditions to the windy, sunny outdoors where temperatures fluctuate greatly.

To harden seedlings off, place the potted plants in a protected spot that gets a few hours of sun per day. Each day move them to a new location where they get a little more light and wind each day. After a week or so, they should be tough enough to plant in the garden. Choose a good spot for your tomatoes. Before planting in the garden, amend beds by digging and turning the soil deeply and adding rich compost and an OMRI Listed tomato fertilizer. Young plants can be planted deep, with only a couple of nodes with foliage above ground, but leaves should be gently removed from all stem parts that will be covered with soil.

Water regularly to keep plants moist, not wet. Tomatoes are such aggressive feeders and water hounds, you have to give serious attention to container-grown plants. Start with a really large pot.

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Determinant tomatoes are best, but indeterminates will also work if you keep them caged and pruned. A good water-holding potting soil is perfect for container culture. Container-grown tomatoes need to be watered daily and fed more frequently, but if you give them ample attention, they should thrive and produce beautifully. Tomato fruits develop the best when days are warm between 78 and 92 degrees Fahrenheit and nights are warm at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tomatoes can be harvested green for fried green tomatoes and green tomato chutney, but they are best picked fully colored and ripe. Some tomatoes are naturally easy to pull from the vine when mature, while others cling to the vine.

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I always keep a pair of harvest sheers on hand for clingers. If you accidentally harvest a few fruits with a bit of green, let them stand on a sunny window for a couple of days, and they will ripen up right away. Tomatoes can be cut back and shaped to keep them from overtaking a trellis or container. Use sharp, clean pruners to cut whole branches back to main stems as needed. Try to maintain productive, fruit and flower laden branches, if at all possible. Dip and wipe the pruners after pruning one plant and going to another.

Tomatoes come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and flavor is surprisingly variable. All are beautiful and have exceptional flavor. Here are the basics for starting, growing, protecting, and harvesting your tomatoes for success and high yields. This is the easy part. To extend the season, freeze whole tomatoes and sauce for winter. This generally requires at least 10 healthy tomato plants to provide enough to store all winter. Growing tomatoes is gratifying if you follow the proper steps and give them the best care. If you do it right you should have more than enough tomatoes to enjoy and share.

I wish you the best tomato season! The marigold that combats root knot nematodes best is the French Marigold. A single flower crops up time and again in vegetable gardens, old and new. Feeding fall beds is important. This fall garden of Supertunia Royal Magenta, Salvia leucantha and Lantana camara is well fertilized and glowing!

It always pays to know when to fertilize your plants. Always follow the directions! Fertilize at time of planting and every weeks throughout the growing season. For perennials, feed at first bloom and then every weeks. Mix thoroughly in the soil just inside the drip line of the plant. Fertilize at time of planting, after first bloom and every 8 weeks throughout the growing season.

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Lots of our products will do the trick nicely. We also recommend adding our secret ingredient: Each of these garden amendments have slightly different benefits and can be used in combination for superior results. The amount of amendment you need can be determined using our amendment calculator. When incorporating organic matter into your garden, it is not the time to be frugal. The more the better. Vegetables also require quality fertilizer for best results. We suggest gardeners wait to fertilize until planting time. If you fertilize and wait for a week or so to plant your garden, you will loose the complete benefits of the quick-release nutrients.

We wish you bountiful harvests in your new vegetable garden, and encourage readers to send us posts of their Black Gold garden successes! We suggest gardeners wait to fertilize until planting time. If you fertilize and wait for a week or so to plant your garden, you will loose the complete benefits of the quick-release nutrients. We wish you bountiful harvests in your new vegetable garden, and encourage readers to send us posts of their Black Gold garden successes! This site may contain content including images and articles as well as advice, opinions and statements presented by third parties.

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