Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Leave the Leaves Where They Fall

Mow them into the lawn to add nutrients. And stop bagging grass clippings! They will completely disappear in a couple of days unless you missed several weeks’ mowings. Not only do you save work, you are returning necessary nutrients to the soil.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Summer Vacation is Ending for Your Houseplants

While it is still very warm outside, houseplants need to begin the transition back into your home. Any that have spent the summer outdoors should be brought onto a porch or deck where they receive less daylight, a step to help them acclimate to the lower light level in your home. Plants that have been in contact with the ground should be repotted to ensure worms, ants or pests are not tagging along. Check for any obvious signs of insects on the leaves, stems and top of the soil. A strong spritz from the garden hose followed by spray of insecticidal soap can help to keep aphids, mites and others from causing problems indoors. Once you make the move indoors, don’t despair if your plants drop a few leaves. The drier air and lower light levels mean the plant cannot support all the summer foliage. Many plants will replace the leaves after they have adapted to their winter quarters.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Do You Appreciate Monarchs?

Fall is time to collect milkweed seeds for next spring. Use only seed native to your area and pick only dry brown pods. Pods must be dry to ensure seeds are mature. Plant the milkweed in the fall in a sunny location by sprinkling seeds over loosened soil. Pat them down, add a thin layer of top dressing and water well. In the spring the plants should appear. Monarch caterpillars will be along to munch on the leaves several times through the summer. A variety of flowers throughout the summer will keep the monarch butterflies nearby.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Our Drought Worsens

As the map shows, New England slipped deeper into drought during August, tightening watering restrictions region-wide. As the growing season winds down, focus on watering remaining vegetables and perennials. Trees and shrubs planted this year or last should be watered during the fall because they may not yet have large root systems. In order to maximize root growth in the fall and minimize winter root injury, a 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch should be used around your trees, plants and shrubs. Evergreens that brown during the winter are evidence that they ran out of available water. As for your lawn, don’t water it. With cooler temperatures, it will green up on its own.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Planting trees and shrubs this month?

Here’s how to do it properly. Start with its placement – will the new plant get the sunlight it needs? Or if it prefers shade, is there sufficient shade? Will it have to fight with other trees’ roots for water? Will the family touch football game run into it? And as it grows, will it run afoul of overhead wires or anything else?

Dig hole at least twice as wide and as deep as the new plant’s root ball. Fill the hole with water and allow it to soak in.

Loosen all the wrappings on the root ball and remove as many as possible without it falling apart. Gently spread out any roots that you can move off the root ball without breaking. Then begin placing new soil around it. Do not fill the hole with potting mix or bagged garden soil. Use the soil you dug out with compost mixed in to feed the new plant.

Firm the soil by tamping down with your hands—not by stomping on it or pounding it—you need the new tree or shrub to quickly grow roots into this area. When the hole is half full, water generously. Then wait for that water to be absorbed. Add more soil and water again. Finish with soil being added up to the level where the tree or shrub sat before being prepared for sale. GENTLY tamp (do not stomp!) the new soil around the tree. The tree/shrub needs air in the soil to provide oxygen to the roots and spaces water can flow through to get to the roots.

If you need to stake the tree, do it gently with ropes. (Shrubs generally do not need staking.) Soften contact with the trunk by pieces of old hose or wrapped cloths to keep it from being held too tightly against the tree trunk. Water regularly for the first weeks to keep the new planting area moist. If you are not certain how far the water is penetrating, use a trowel to dig down gently, about halfway to the root ball and check with your fingers. Do not forget to water after the weather cools if we have a dry autumn or early winter.