pH … Only two letters but very important in our garden world.
Most years I test my soil with my Kelway pH meter and things have shown in the normal range. Last year the readings were slightly higher. So, this year since I had so much time on my hands to think about such things, I decided it was a great time to go all the way and have a “professional” soil test.
As you know I have a large garden with different garden “rooms.” I decided to actually do three separate tests. My choice was to test spaces that have the most roses.
Many garden friends recommended Great Lakes Lab so I simply hopped on their website where I found instructions on what to do. (FYI: Cost of these tests was approximately $30 each but you get a wealth of information on your soil!)
The results were back within 10 days. It is fascinating to read all the information. I learned my soil was high in organics! YAY! But it was surprising to see that my pH was reading more alkaline than ever before — 7.0 / 7.2 / 7.4. Roses are happiest and healthiest with a slightly acidic soil pH of 6.0 – 6.9. Rosarians strive for 6.5! So my pH was not extremely high, but it’s time to do something about it especially the area that was 7.4. The Great Lakes soil report also contains information on how to correct the situation.
When the pH is too high or too low, your plants can suffer from “malnutrition” as this affects the plant’s ability to take up nutrients. One symptom I had noticed was that a few of my roses were showing some chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves.
There are no quick fixes at changing the pH of your soil – it can be difficult. But, armed with this new information I am ready to work toward giving the plants what they need. Great Lakes Lab recommended sulfur – 10 lbs of sulfur per 1000 square ft on a yearly basis. Applications should be done in late fall or early spring. Since my pH is not too far from where it needs to be, I will probably only do 2 applications. However, it will take 2-3 years to see change. I’ll have another test in a couple years. If you haven’t had a “professional” soil test done, I would highly recommend you do. As a gardener, you will be fascinated by what you find.
I was very curious as to why the pH was rising each year so I starting asking my local rose society friends. Many have experienced the same thing. It was pointed out that our groundwater is very alkaline and we water from a well. Over time this makes a difference.
JAPANESE BEETLE UPDATE
The beetle season runs from mid-June to mid-August. This week I only found 3 or 4 beetles. They are gone – right on schedule! If you are wondering how many beetles we had … I can’t tell you how many I have (only to say TOOOOOO many!) But, my rose society friend Mark Nolen, who has grown roses for 50 years and is currently growing more than 300 roses keeps a count each year. They use the bag method and the soapy water bath method. From Mark…
The first year that I have a count is 2001 and we had 73,866 beetles. I had two Japanese beetle bags in 2001 located in my front yard and I estimate there were at least 40,000 beetles in the two bags. Last year we had 5,673 and this year we had 2,525.
This week all the attention is going to ‘Mother of Pearl’. She is ready to celebrate the end of beetle season and is showing off!
This grandiflora rose from Star Roses and Plants is a standout each year. Beautiful color, light fragrance, and very healthy. One of the things I like best about this rose (other than this amazing color) is that it holds it’s petals for a long time and looks fabulous from a distance even if the blooms are beginning to fade. I purchased mine from Roses Unlimited https://rosesunlimitedsc.com
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER
September is looming so fall is coming soon. Not my favorite season for sure but if I’ve learned anything from COVID, it is to be in the moment and to treasure and be grateful for all things. Yes, this weekend I will celebrate the coming of the new season with a Pumpkin Spice something! Are you a part of the pumpkin spice craze?
Friends, thanks for stopping by! Be safe, healthy, and happy!