Roses are typically grown in monocultures and are maintained through heavy use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. The producer inherited a monoculture of 400 Simplicity rose plants from her father. He had followed the conventional practice of spraying every 5-7 days for insect and disease control, tilled frequently for weed control, used soluble fertilizers and depended on rainfall for watering the roses.
During her first season as owner she followed most of her father’s practices, making what changes she could. For example, she tried using a baking soda solution for black spot and instead of tilling she used a leaf mulch.
Her efforts to provide a habitat for beneficial insects met with mixed success. The mixes of winter rye, vetch and crimson clover were excellent as mulch, as soil amendments, for soil moisture and even–in the case of the rye–as a windbreak. However, the particular mix did not provide a sufficient habitat for enough of the beneficial insects needed to take care of the pests on the roses.
The producer is continuing growing the roses since they represent a significant investment and she has a niche for her fresh-cut roses at the Henderson County Curb Market. She has had to rely on more conventional methods to control pests and pathogens on her roses but is continuing to search for methods to cut down on purchased inputs.