Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Attack of the Japanese Beetles!

Beetles... Beetles... and More Beetles...

There’s nothing like a leisurely walk through a rose garden in full bloom.  Vivid colors and a sweet rose fragrance beckon you into a garden alive with romance and Japanese beetles…WAIT!  WHAT?  There are few things that will frustrate the home rosarian more than Japanese beetles.  So what are we to do?
Before you head out into your garden with your handy flame thrower, let’s take a quick look at some options for keeping these unwelcomed garden guests under control.
Option 1: 
Cut your blooms early and bring them inside!
How easy is that!  Japanese Beetles are drawn to color and fragrance, so if the color and fragrance are in your home instead of your garden, the Beetles will head elsewhere to find sustenance!  One thing to remember when cutting your blooms early is to make sure the sepals have fallen; otherwise you will have a beautiful bud, which never opens, sitting in a vase until it droops into oblivion.  So break out all of your vases and get ready to arrange to your heart's content!
Option 2: 
Hand collecting the Beetles

Ew!  I know!  Just keep in mind they don’t bite!  Head out early in the morning when the beetles are sluggish.  (They are probably hungover from all of the sweet roses they noshed on the day before… jerks.)  Hold a jar full of soapy water under the bloom and shake the beetles off into the jar.  The soap breaks the surface tension of the water so the beetles drown.  I know it seems gruesome, but your plants will be skeletonized if you do nothing!  So keep that in mind! 


Option 3: 
Japanese Beetle Killer
(Chemicals such as Sevin, Bonide, Etc.)

This one is pretty self-explanatory right?  You spray the chemical and the bugs go away.  To an extent this is true!  However, the spray does not prevent Japanese Beetles, it merely kills the ones that are already chowing down on your bushes!  This is a good option if you are squeamish about touching the beetles, but you have to be consistent with spraying!
Option 4: 
Milky Spore

Milky spore is a soil dwelling bacteria that infects the beetles in their larval stage.  Even though you cannot SEE the Japanese Beetles when they are in the larval stage, they are still underground feasting on your grass roots!  While applications of Milky Spore will decrease the number of grubs that survive in your yard, if your neighbors are not treating their yards, it can be fruitless! 

Options to Avoid!!
I know it is tempting to place one of the Japanese Beetle bag traps in your yard, but resist the urge!  It does such a great job of luring beetles to it, that it will attract even more beetles into your yard!  Just think about it!  If you are trying to get the color and fragrance out of your garden in order to discourage the beetles from devouring your garden, why would you place a colorful bag with a floral lure to draw them back in?  Now if you could convince your neighbor to hang one in their yard…well... you get the idea! 

Things to remember!
Japanese Beetles emerge from the ground in June and they only live 30-45 days above ground.  While the beetles can be spotted anytime between June and October, the main “season” lasts only six weeks. It may seem like an eternity if your roses are being devoured, but have hope!  Your roses will grow back!
Home Rosarians Unite!

Squeamish about touching the Japanese Beetles with your bare hands?
Buy a pair of Gripper Gloves
we will ship them to you for
Enter the coupon code "SHIPMEGLOVES" at checkout to receive your exclusive discount!
(Offer ends June 30, 2013)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Buggin' Out this Summer

Buggin’ Out this Summer


Ah, summer.  Time to hit the sand and surf and bask in the sun.   Ha, the insects that like your roses are thinking the same thing!  So what’s a rose gardener to do about it?  There are really two choices: tolerate or eliminate. 
Ask yourself first what is your tolerance level.   If there are only a few wayward Japanese beetles flying around and they aren’t really bothering your roses, then is it a priority to eliminate them?  However, if there are literally dozens swarming the rose garden having themselves a weekend long kegger in your backyard, then you might want to eliminate them. 
Japanese beetles begin as grubs in the soil, feeding mostly on the roots of lawn grass.  When they mature and emerge from the ground as beetles, they feed on our gorgeous roses and a variety of other ornamental plants.  They are also doing their mating at this time, so that weekend kegger has just turned into serious debauchery. 
There is more than one way to tackle this particular pest.  A product called Milky Spore has been identified as a disease of the larval stage, or grub stage, of the beetle.  This bacterium, developed by the USDA, is available in powder form to be used on the lawn while the beetles are grubs.  It can take many, many years of repeated applications in order to decrease the population. 
The more popular way to tackle the beetles is by spraying them when they are adults feeding on your plants in summer.  And while there are a variety of sprays available we recommend Bonide’s Japanese Beetle Killer. 
We already have the beetles on our radar here in our ServiceDepartment at Witherspoon.  The many years of experience dealing with beetles has engrained a mindset of anticipation of their arrival across the state.  We’ll be using different products in our spray tanks that aren’t available to the homeowner, making our visits to our customers’ gardens the most effective possible. 
By the way, we do not recommend the use of the typical “beetle traps”.  They contain pheromones that actually attract more beetles to come hangout in your backyard; and if you’ve already decided that your yard is not a beetle playground, then you don’t want to put those traps out. 
Another troublesome pest of roses in summer is thrips.  They are troublesome because they are so small and they get into the rose bud before the bud even opens up!  This poses an even greater challenge for us as Rose Care Technicians in our customers’ gardens because we simply cannot penetrate the buds with our spray like the thrips can. 
Thrips are in the buds because they are seeking that sweet moisture inside the flowers.  This causes the flowers to become dried out and distorted leaving you without beautiful blooms. 
It can be quite a frustrating experience having thrips in the rose garden.  They’re much like the biting no-see-ums on the irritation scale…you can see (or feel) the damage, but can scarcely see them to stop them.  

However, we use some good products in our tanks against them!  Hopefully with all the wonderful rains we’ve had lately their populations won’t be quite as high as we’ve seen in year’s past.
In our last post from the Service Department we mentioned briefly about spider mites and the use of predatory mites against them.  Spider mites are quite destructive and leave the plants in a stressed and weakened state.  Their life cycles have such a rapid rate of maturity from the time they hatch to the time they are mature to reproduce. 

A female can be mature enough to reproduce in as little as 5 days! 
The image here is quite an extreme case of spider mite damage on a rose.  Our customers and technicians have seen cases as bad as this.  Hot, dry weather is the preferred environment for spider mites.  They stay on the undersides of the leaves, creating webs of protection against predators.

 In Conclusion
Our efforts in reduced insecticide use and the introduction of the predatory mites in our customers’ gardens have shown signs of success!  We hope to continue the use of predatory insects even against other pests such as thrips. 


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Roses In the Kitchen: All About Edible Roses!

Roses in the Kitchen
Roses are wonderful flowers that are often enjoyed in vases on kitchen tables as a centerpiece, but they can also be used to create unique and beautiful dishes.  Roses have been enjoyed for centuries in many different cuisines and cultures.  Eastern countries such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey use roses as often as they do other herbs.  Asian countries such as Japan and China also use roses in their cooking.   In more recent years, roses have become increasingly more popular in upscale restaurants around the United States.  Using roses as an ingredient in your kitchen is an easy way to enjoy new flavors and dishes.
Roses have a sweet flavor with subtle undertones like fruit, mint, and spice.  Flavor profiles depend on the type of rose, its color, and the soil conditions in which they have been grown.  Flavors tend to be more pronounced in darker colored varieties.  Choose a rose that has a pleasant fragrance.  If the rose smells good, then it is more likely to taste good.  No fragrance, no flavor! 

 Sprinkle petals on desserts or salads to add vibrant color.  Use petals in ice cubes to dress up drinks.  Create syrups, jellies, perfumed butters, sweet spreads, rose honey, rice pudding, custards, baklava, tea cakes, scones, cookies, frosting, and ice cream.  Dried rose petals can be combined with other spices and added to herb blends (In 2012 the International Herb Association designated the rose the official herb of the year).  Rose petals can also be used to make rose water or to flavor alcoholic beverages such as rose flavored vodka. 
Follow these simple guidelines when choosing which roses you will be eating!
1)        Never use pesticides or other chemicals on any part of the plant that produces blossoms you can eat.
2)       Do not eat roses that you purchase from a florist, nursery, or garden center.
3)       Never harvest roses that are growing by the roadside.
4)       Identify the flower exactly and eat only edible flowers and edible parts of these flowers.
5)       Use roses sparingly in your recipes due to the digestive complications that can occur with a large consumption rate.
6)       Wash all roses thoroughly before you eat them.
7) Or purchase rose petals or hips from an organic herb supply store like Rose Mountain Herbs.

 Good choices for “kitchen” roses are old garden roses and Rugosas, these roses are hardy, disease resistant and do not require spraying with any chemicals.  They also have great fragrance and produce wonderful rose hips in the fall that are full of vitamin C and great to use in tea. 
The best time to harvest roses is mid-morning after the dew has dried, but before the heat of the day.  Petals will keep for up to a week if you store them in a refrigerator.  Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petal. 
Below are some delicious and easy recipes to try at home.  Enjoy your new adventure with edible roses!
Rose Petal Jam
1/2 pound pink or red edible rose petals
2 cups granulated sugar
, divided
4 1/2 cups water
Juice of 2 freshly-squeezed lemons (approximately 1/2 cup)
Clip and discard bitter white bases from the rose petals; rinse petals thoroughly and drain.  Place rose petals in a bowl and sprinkle enough sugar to coat each petal. Let set overnight.  In a saucepan over low heat, place remaining sugar, water, and lemon juice; stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in rose petals and let simmer 20 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; continue boiling for approximately 5 minutes until mixture thickens and the temperature on a candy thermometor reaches 221 degrees F. or until a spoonful dropped onto a cold plate jells and holds its shape. Remove from heat.  After boiling, transfer the jam into hot sterilized jars. Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top. Wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid, and tighten the ring around them. Cover, label, and store in a cool place.  Makes 1 pound of jam.
Rose Petal or Rose Hip Tea        
2 cups fresh fragrant rose petals (about 15 large roses) or ¼ cup of dried rose hips 
3 cups water
Honey or granulated sugar to taste
Clip and discard bitter white bases from the rose petals; rinse petals thoroughly and pat dry.  In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, place the prepared rose petals. Cover with water and bring just to a simmer; let simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until the petals become discolored (darkened).  Remove from heat and strain the hot rose petal liquid into teacups. Add honey or sugar to taste.  Makes 4 servings. 
Instant Rose Honey
 Whip this up to put on muffins or serve with fresh buttermilk biscuits at breakfast. 
3 c. fresh rose petals
¾ c. honey
Put the rose petals in a food processor and pulse until well chopped. Empty into a dish, add the honey and mix well. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days.
Rose Tea Sandwich
Cut prepared angel food cake into half-inch thick slices. Spread softened cream cheese on each slice of cake. Next, layer half the slices with lots of rose petals—mixing colors if you have them. Press the halves together to make sandwiches. Cut the sandwiches into smaller shapes and serve with rose tea.
Rose Salad Vinegar
Gather enough fragrant rose petals to fill a quart jar—pushing down a bit to fit plenty of petals in the jar. Completely fill the jar with white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar—making sure all of the petals are covered. Cover the container with plastic wrap and set on the kitchen counter. Give the container a little shake or stir once each day for 4 days. On the 5th day, strain out the petals and discard them. To the liquid, add 1 level tablespoon of brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Store the vinegar in the refrigerator for up to a month. Use rose vinegar on any summer salad. It’s also good on grilled seafood.
Hosting a garden party?? 
Freeze some miniature roses in your ice cubes!
Three Cheers for Edible Roses!!