What is that smell?

What is that smell?

September 23 2015 RHR 006

Have you ever notice a “fishy” smell coming from the Dean Bond Rose Garden? This is part of our organic rose garden procedure. Applied roughly every two weeks depending on conditions, a mixture of fish hydrolysate and water (1.5 ounces per gallon) is sprayed liberally on the plants of the Dean Bond Rose Garden.

Black spot on leaves in the Dean Bond Rose Garden. photo credit: R. Robert

Black spot on leaves in the Dean Bond Rose Garden. photo credit: R. Robert

In addition to working as a fertilizer, fish hydrolysate applications function as a fungicide. Similar to a chemical fungicide, fish emulsion is applied while wearing protective gear; the entire plant is coated. This prevents the spread of funguses like black spot.

Fungal spores can splash onto healthy leaves from fallen infected leaves photo credit: R. Robert

Fungal spores can splash onto healthy leaves from fallen infected leaves on the ground. photo credit: R. Robert

Besides fertilizing the roots and building microbial activity in the soil, a drenching of fish emulsion suppresses the fungus spores from splashing on other plants to spread disease. We are currently working on identifying and removing cultivars of roses highly susceptible to black spot. The remaining resistant cultivars will enjoy the benefit of a restored healthy balance in the soil structure created by these applications which will increase in their resistance to disease.

If you see a gardener in a spray suit applying a smelly substance in the Dean Bond Rose Garden, it is not chemical based even though these treatments are applied with equipment similar to traditional treatments. photo credit: R. Robert

If you see a gardener in a spray suit applying a smelly substance in the Dean Bond Rose Garden, it is not chemical based even though these treatments are applied with equipment similar to traditional treatments. photo credit: R. Robert

So if you see a gardener in a spray suit applying a smelly substance in the Dean Bond Rose Garden, it is not chemical based even though these treatments are applied with equipment similar to traditional treatments.

Similar equipment is used to apply fish hydrolysate. photo credit: R. Robert

Similar equipment is used to apply fish hydrolysate. photo credit: R. Robert

Consider these organic alternatives for your garden. The fishy smell lasts only until the liquid dries, allowing everyone to smell the roses. For more information on the Dean Bond Rose Garden efforts, check out the 2015 Winter issue of the Hybrid.

Becky Robert
rrobert1@swarthmore.edu
1Comment
  • NNormann
    Posted at 03:41h, 23 April Reply

    I’m interested in the organic gardening techniques you’re exploring. Where can one locate “the Hybrid,” referred to at the end of this article? Thank you.

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