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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Reinvigorating Annuals and Containers

To keep the annuals blooming and looking at their best until frost, you need to deadhead and keep them pruned into shape. When you water annuals, particularly those in containers, remember to add a weak solution of liquid plant food. The timed released fertilizer you added in spring or early summer has been depleted.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Our Drought Conditions Worsen

For the past two years, New England has had above-average precipitation and well-above-average soil moisture. All that has changed in 2020. As the attached map shows, almost the entire region is ‘abnormally dry’ and much has slipped into a ‘moderate drought’. Almost as bad, much of our precipitation in July was in the form of pop-up thunderstorms which did not provide the deep watering our soil needs. For gardeners – especially those with watering bans – August will be a month of triage. Your priority for watering should be 1) vegetables, 2) trees, shrubs and perennials planted this year, and 3) containers. Your lowest priority should be your lawn. It may brown out now, but it is a perennial that will re-green with cooler temperatures.