Seasonal Gardening: Gardeners vs. Joggers, Rose Disease and Live Christmas Trees

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening news briefs on gardeners vs. joggers physical fitness, a rose disease attacking multiflora and cultivated roses and snow covered live christmas trees.

| November/December 1988

The Seasons of the Garden column shares seasonal gardening information and tips with MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers. 

Seasonal Gardening: Gardeners vs. Joggers, Rose Disease and Live Christmas Trees

ACCORDING TO EXERCISING Expert Dr. Ronald LaPorte, flashy joggers often lose to slow-but-steady gardeners in the "race" to better physical fitness. Why? Because running workouts demand too much effort and commitment, resulting in a high dropout rate. The more moderate (and productive!) effort of gardening attracts and holds far more people. LaPorte figures that "The Victory Garden" is the best exercise show on TV and offers his own simple formula for health: "I'd like to give everyone a garden."

Exactly one year ago in this column, we briefly mentioned a disease called rose rosette that afflicts—and often kills—multiflora roses. (Symptoms include bright red stems and leaves, thick branches, bleached flowers and extra thorns.) Since then, we've received dozens of information requests from readers eager to use a little biological warfare on the pesky briar. Well, don't plan on "poxing" those plants just yet. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists, the disease can strike cultivated roses, as well.

Rosette was first noticed in 1941 on wild roses in the western U.S. and has since spread to much of the Midwest. The disease has attacked some cultivated roses in the Midwest, but apparently not in the West and Southwest. Why? No one knows. Researchers are trying to develop reliable techniques for limiting the spread of the disease (it is apparently transmitted by the mite Phyllocoptes fructiphilus ).

But for now, please don't attempt to import rosette into your area-the risk to cultivated roses is just too great. Rather, USDA scientists recommend that you remove any multiflora roses with rosette symptoms.

Seasonal Gardening Research Briefs

However, a foam chip is not a foam chip . . . McGill University researchers found that some white packing chips work well when added to potting mixes (for promoting aeration and drainage), but certain kinds can be toxic to plants. So use any foam chips on a trial basis at first, keeping an eye out for wilted or yellowed foliage.

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