TX Organic Research Center



Antique, container roses are sweeter
February 06, 2004
By Howard Garrett

Antique, container roses are sweeter

Question: Where can I get bare-root roses, and is now the time to plant them?

H.T.C., Dallas

Answer: Many nurseries have, or will soon have, bare-root roses for sale. However, most would agree that planting container roses is a much better way to go. You will also have more success and less frustration by planting antique varieties and other easy-to-maintain roses. They are available now and should be planted as soon as possible.

Print a copy of my Organic Rose Program from my Web site, www.dirtdoctor.com, or send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your request to the address below.

Question: Do you suggest planting by the moon and astrological signs?

I've tried to figure it out, but when you have a second-quarter moon, the planting signs, Cancer and Scorpio, usually don't fall at that time.

This spring, I am planting a couple of acres organically, and I want every advantage for a great crop.

T.P., Kaufman County

Answer: I do recommend planting by the moon, but I am not very knowledgeable on the subject. I do know that plants that produce fruit and seed above ground should be planted during the first two quarters during the increasing light of the moon.

Root crops such as carrots and potatoes should be planted during the decreasing light of the moon waning in the third quarter.

Nothing should be planted from seed in the last quarter. That's the time to do weeding, plant removal, stump killing, etc.

A good book on this subject is Llewellyn's Moon Sign Book (Llewellyn Publications, $7.95), which is published annually.

Question: We have a large area, 5,000 by 150 feet, where we want to plant a vegetable garden. It has a very dense growth of coastal Bermuda grass. The water table is at about 10 feet, which really makes the grass grow. We are going to plant the vegetables in a 6-inch-tall raised bed and use black plastic mulch.

The county extension agent says the grass will grow through the plastic. He recommends using RoundUp.* Is there a better way?

K.T., Dallas

Answer: Using RoundUp is a bad idea, but so is leaving the Bermuda grass. It is the worst weed you can have in a planting bed.

Plastic, both solid and the so-called weed-blocking kind, is also a bad idea because it doesn't work well and fouls up the most important part of the soil, the surface just under the mulch. That's where the temperature is ideal, minerals are available, life is transitioning back and forth between the mulch and the soil, etc.

The best method is to remove the top 1 1/2 to 2 inches of soil and toss it into the compost pile. Then apply compost and other organic amendments.

Do not till the area first. That drives pieces of the stems (rhizomes and

stolons) down into the ground allowing the grass to come back forever as a horrible weed. Grass does not come back from roots as is commonly thought.


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