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Time approaching to winterize roses

It is time to think about winterizing roses. You don't have to do it yet, but you ought to arrange your schedule to get this chore done by about the first or second week in October, or when raking of leaves begins.

It is time to think about winterizing roses. You don't have to do it yet, but you ought to arrange your schedule to get this chore done by about the first or second week in October, or when raking of leaves begins.

The first task is to take off all leaves marred by blackspot disease and discard them.

Blackspot is a disease that usually starts toward the bottom of rose foliage and does what it says - disfigures the leaves with black spots. After a bit, the black spots yellow and fall off the plant.

Sanitation is the main cure for blackspot. You may not be able to find the time this fall to pick up blackspotted leaves from the ground as well as the plant, but if you can, you have made a great start on next year.

Now spray the plants with a preparation called lime sulfur available at your garden store. This is an organic compound and helps to control other diseases as well as blackspot.

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To protect my roses, I use a cover of autumn leaves. I don't use plastic cones. I find they don't do a good job of protection, partly because you must fill the insides with leaves to eliminate pockets of cold air, and I don't find it necessary to cut the tops of the roses off to make room for the cones.

The only removal of the tops that is needed, I believe, is to clip off any that winds would catch and, thus, loosen the roots. Winter is going to do your pruning for you so why double the trouble?

If you can, encircle the rose bed (or roses, if they are planted separately) with chicken wire to hold in the leaf cover.

As you rake, throw the leaves into the enclosure atop the roses. Do this as long as you can. You should have about 4 feet of leaf cover, or at least as much as you have available.

If you did not enclose the bed with wire, then keep the leaf cover in with plastic bags of leaves placed on the perimeter. The goal is to keep winds from nibbling at the outside and blowing your leaves away.

If the leaves are too dry, get out the garden hose and wet them down until frost puts them in place.

Now you can forget about them until spring, assuming they stay frozen until then.

If you are living in a new area and don't yet have trees to provide you with leaves, you will need to try to find some in older areas. Many folks in these areas don't have roses or compost piles (I forgot to tell you that if you don't need your leaves for rose cover, they are excellent for compost).

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You will need to make your leaf wants known to friends or relatives and then go by and pick up them up.

You could travel the streets and pick up leaf bags that the street crews will be gathering, but watch what you are getting. Some of these bags contain diseased foliage, dog feces and other substances that you wouldn't want in your roses.

So good luck if nature has not provided you with your own leaf cover.

Collins is The Forum's garden columnist. Write to her by mail at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo ND 58107, or direct e-mail to her at dorothycollins@i29.net

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