How to im­prove soil for roses

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The drought in many parts of the coun­try caused roses to be­come semi-dor­mant. With the new season, they will be rar­ing to go. If you haven’t al­ready done so, im­prove the soil now so that wa­ter reaches the roots eas­ily.

Why is good soil im­por­tant? Plants need min­er­als, oxy­gen, wa­ter and sun­light to grow. The soil is the medium where all this is pro­cessed by mi­cro-or­gan­isms and the more you have, the bet­ter the soil.

Dif­fer­ent types of soil There are three types of soil: clay, which is sticky and gets wa­ter­logged; sandy soil, which is loose and drains quickly; and loam, which is a mix­ture of clay and sand and varies in con­sis­tency from gar­den to gar­den.

What to do Im­prove the qual­ity of the soil by adding hu­mus (par­tially de­com­posed or­ganic mat­ter) – this im­proves both its tex­ture (whether clay or sandy) and drainage while at the same time re­tain­ing and ab­sorb­ing the nec­es­sary amount of mois­ture and nu­tri­ents to feed the roots. • For best re­sults, add at least 30% or­ganic mat­ter. The most re­li­able for­mula is one-third soil, one-third sand and one-third or­ganic mat­ter of some kind.

• Spread the or­ganic ma­te­rial over the bed and dig it in to a depth of 25cm so that it mixes in well with the sur­round­ing soil. Wa­ter well af­ter­wards.

What or­ganic mat­ter to use The ideal or­ganic mix­ture con­sists of com­post, ma­nure, milled bark, peanut shells, leaves, pine nee­dles, lawn clip­pings and peat moss. The more var­ied the mix­ture, the bet­ter, be­cause par­ti­cles of dif­fer­ent sizes last longer and have a bet­ter con­di­tion­ing ef­fect on the soil tex­ture.

Other ad­di­tives Bone­meal and su­per­phos­phate will en­cour­age root de­vel­op­ment; add to your or­ganic mix, leave to set­tle for a week and then ap­ply.

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