Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Bulbs

Your tulips should be in the ground now, and small bulbs such as crocus, snowdrops, and grape hyacinth should be going into the ground by mid-month. Hold off planting daffodils until later in the month. To keep squirrels and other varmints from digging up and eating your bulbs, dust them with lime as you put them into the ground, and then add a layer of lime on top of the planted area. The lime interferes with smelling the bulbs, and is an important in ‘sweetening’ the soil for these plants that come from a part of the world with much less acidic soil. If you have very aggressive rodents, add hot pepper or chili powder to bulb coating.


 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Don’t Count on Rainy Weather



New England is going into the autumn with a rain deficit of as much as nine inches in some areas. The map tells the story – and the contrast with last year when we were only ‘abnormally dry’. What to do? If your soil feels dry down several inches, water any trees and shrubs that will need the water over the winter. So as not to waste water, set your hose up to slowly deliver the right amount (one to five gallons depending on the size of the plant) rather than spraying the entire garden. You can also use a bucket or other container to slowly deliver the right amount of water to the plant’s roots. As you take care of this immediate need, think critically about your plantings to see if you have any water hogs that could be replaced with less demanding plants next spring. 


 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Add to Your Soil’s Fertility

Create a nutrient-rich base layer by collecting grass clippings and raked leaves to spread over the bed, as long as you didn’t use “weed and feed’ or other broad-leaf weed killers (flowers and vegetables are broad leafed). With vegetable gardens, usually we take away the plants that were growing there this year to reduce the possibility of diseases or insects from wintering over. But any vegetable plant not affected by disease or insects can be chopped, and left behind. The leaves from corn plants, the overgrown lettuce heads, the tops of carrots and so forth are a starting point. But don’t forget all those leaves that fell on yours or your neighbors’ lawns. Pick them up with your mower bag and they’ll be shredded and ready to improve your vegetable garden.

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.