GARDENING: Brian Kidd's eight-week plan to save your roses
Thank you very much for your letters. If you have not received an answer in the post please be patient, I will try to answer as soon as I can.
Particular thanks to all of you who enjoyed the article about going blackberrying with my dear grandma and my suggestion to take the children out to pick some.
Despite the drought conditions it's been a very good year for most plants in the garden, but the poor old vegetables have been stressed. However, the recent rain will just about save them.
Have you noticed how much earlier it's getting dark? Now the evenings are drawing in, fungal problems on your roses will become a nuisance.
Prevention is better than cure so we need to arm ourselves with some fungicides which will help prevent mildew, rust and the dreaded blackspot.
It has become very clear that if the same product is used all through the growing season the diseases will become resistant to aÂ single product, so it's a good idea to ring the changes.
Are you prepared to spray yourÂ roses once a week for the next eightÂ weeks? Thought not. But just in case you areÂ you mightÂ consider the following. Here is a well-established programme for preventing these diseases.
Always spray late in the evening when things have quietened down and there is no direct sunÂ on the leaves.
Add a measure of Maxicrop Complete garden feed which is made from seaweed.
This will feed the plants through the leaves and make the following chemicals even more effective.
The first product is called Copper Mixture. It's quite cheap and if applied over the foliage as recommended for copper deficiencyÂ it prevents fungi from entering the leaves because it leaves behind a copper covering which '˜burns'Â the spores as they try to enter the plant cells. This is organic and safe to use.
A week later, spray with Systhane,Â the best product available to domestic gardeners because it prevents rust which seems to be getting worse every year. If there is already rust on the leaves, remove them before spraying with the Systhane.
The following week spray Rose Clear 2 or Multirose.Â I have given you a choice because it's very likely you have one of these products in the shed, I am ever mindful that people like to save money!
If you complete this programme, start again for perfect results.
Cleanliness is very important. Before spraying, give the rose bed a good weeding and pick up all the dead leaves. These are often packed with spores which fly back on to the healthy growth. Wouldn't it be good if we could use a vacuum cleaner to do this job?
Well, have a look at your instruction manual. If it's a cleaner which will suck up water, it will suck up rose leaves.
Just to finish, you aren't throwing the dead petals on to the rise bed are you? They too horde blackspot and rust spores and are best put into the compost heap.
THIS WEEK'S TOP TIP
Embarrassing gap in a border? Pop in a pot-grown cosmos. There are lots at garden centres and theyÂ flowerÂ until the cold weather comes. Or a flowering potted dahlia. They'll bloomÂ weekly until the first frosts.