Go organic on roses
Roses, which are often attacked by pests, should be treated organically. The chemicals used on them are dangerous for our health, writes Daksha Hathi

Grow tomatoes around roses. This will keep pests away
Grow tomatoes around roses. This will keep pests away

Who can resist roses and little babies? They are both irresistible! But there are two important things we should know about them for the sake of the

Babies need to be kept away from disposable plastic nappies because at seven ounces per used disposable diaper, an average baby will be innocently guilty of creating over 3000 pounds of waste in a landfill site over a period of two-and-a-half-years, say environmentalists. One billion trees per year go into the manufacture of disposable diapers, they warn.

Roses, which are often attacked by pests, should be treated organically as the chemicals used on them are the most dangerous for our health. Rachel Carson, in her ground-breaking book, Silent Spring, said that if you plant marigolds (the yellow strong smelling ones) around roses, the excretion from their roots will kill nematodes (pests). This method was proven to be much more effective than chemical sprays in many tests.

A book that all rose lovers must have is Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening by Louise Riotte. It is crammed with useful tips about organic ways to deal with pests attacking roses and other flowers. You will learn that beans and onions are natural enemies and should never be planted together. A real treasure is her remedy to the fight black spot in roses, using tomatoes.

In your mixie, make a solution of tomato leaves; add four or five pints of water and a tablespoon of corn starch. Strain it and spray it on your roses. You can even just grow tomatoes around roses, and they will be safe from the black spot, says the writer in her book.

Here is one more method that has been tried and tested and based on research by R. K. Horst, professor of plant pathology at Cornell University. A 0.5 per cent solution of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) and water (three teaspoons baking soda per gallon of water) sprayed on roses is a good remedy for tackling the black spot and powdery mildew. Grow chives around your roses; they are available in many nurseries now. Organic gardeners, who have used chives, say aphids have never attacked their roses again.

Handpicking the pests is also another good option. You must remove and destroy leaves attacked by aphids to reduce their recurring. Another simple and safe method is to use a strong spray of pressurised water to knock aphids off the roses. Try out yellow sticky traps and cover young rose bushes with netting to protect them. Learn to use companion plants (plants that help to keep pests away) like garlic, coriander and petunias around your roses.

If spider mites attack roses (they suck moisture from the plant) and suffocate them in a web, there is an easy remedy for this. Just wash the mites off your plant with a strong spray of water. Grow garlic and onions around the plant.

One clove or garlic planted near your roses will repel aphids and greenflies. Garlic also exudes sulphur, which will kill black spot fungus.

There is also an insecticidal garlic spray that you can try. Soak three ounces finely-minced garlic in two teaspoons mineral oil for 24 hours. Slowly add one pint water that has been mixed with one-fourth ounce insecticidal soap. Stir thoroughly and strain into a glass jar for storage. You can use one to two tablespoons per pint of water for spraying on roses, dahlias, hollyhocks or any other plants infested with pests. Sometimes, this strong spray may cause leaf damage; dilute the solution a little.

Collect all your eggshells, crush them and put a thin layer of them around your plant stems. Then cover the eggshells with soil. You will have two benefits egg shells will give calcium to your soil and they will repel root maggots and cutworms. Eggshells are sharp, and soft little insects will find it uncomfortable to crawl through them.