Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Resist the Temptation to Apply Mulch Now

Applied too early (and April is too early in Massachusetts), the mulch will slow down your garden by acting as a blanket, preventing warming and keeping the soil colder than the air. Later on, those 2 to 3 inches of mulch will keep down weeds and dress your garden.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tread Softly

The soil around your home and garden is just coming out of its winter hibernation of alternate freezing and thawing. Right now, the top few inches of soil is exceptionally airy, and every time you walk over it, you compress some of the air out. By the end of April, the soil should be ready for gardening but, for right now, avoid doing damage to your soil by walking on it too much.


 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What, and What Not, to Prune

 Everyone likes to prune in April, but follow these guidelines: Prune spring blooming trees and shrubs only after the flowers are finished. Don’t be in a hurry to prune off brown areas on evergreens. They often will regrow the needles that have suffered winter kill. A light scratch with your fingernail on the branch will show green if the wood there is still alive. If you have fall-flowering shrubs, this is your last call to prune them.


 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Seasonal Forecast

The Drought Monitor issued at the beginning of April shows some danger for New England. Portions of the region are ‘unusually dry’ and Vermont and a small area of New Hampshire is in Stage 1 drought. No area rates ‘severe’ or ‘extreme’. But the same map at the beginning of March showed no drought at all in southern New England. The NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows a 50% probability for higher-than-average rainfall for April to June for New England; it also shows a 60% probability of above-average temperatures. Keep these forecasts in mind (and watch for updated ones) as you go through the season.


 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Starting Your Seedlings

The ground may still be frozen, but planning your 2021 garden should be well underway. If your flower and vegetable seed order hasn’t been sent in, do it quickly. When they arrive, check seeds packets for advice on when to start each variety of seed. Starting them too early often leads to leggy or weak seedlings from having spent too long waiting indoors for warm weather to arrive. Use only sterile soil mixes to prevent damping off (fungal growth) on seedlings.


 

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Spring Cleaning Your House Plants

Give your houseplants room to grow. Not every day is good for outdoor gardening, so now is a good time to do some work indoors. Transplant houseplants in March to prepare them for a spring growth spurt. Always use a clean pot. Scrub salt and dirt from old pots and rinse out new pots before using. Remember to never put a plant into a pot more than one size larger than its current pot. Otherwise, it will disappoint you by spending more energy growing underground than up top. Prune dead or circling roots to encourage new ones to form. Always remove dead leaves, old flowers, and any salt that have built up around the stem of the plant or on top of the soil. And don’t forget to wash the leaves to remove dust from them. Finally, water thoroughly but do not let the pot sit in the water that has drained through.


 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Prepping Bulbs

When your spring bulbs appear, sprinkle a small amount of organic fertilizer and lime around - not on - the new greens. This will wash into the soil with spring rains and help the bulb get ready for next year’s flowers. This year’s flower is already in the bulb, waiting for the right weather to appear. An application of organic mulch around the foliage will keep weeds down around the bulbs and add organic to the soil later. If you planted your bulbs among perennials, (good for hiding the bulb foliage as it dies) do not mulch until the perennials are up.


 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Time to Get the Lawn Furniture Ready!

There is more to gardening than plants. Use these cold and wet days to spruce up outdoor furniture—sand and refinish wood, remove rust and repaint metal. If your refurbishing work cries out for new fabric for the cushions, you’ll be glad you did it when you are ready to use them in the warm months.


 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Spring's Around the Corner!

Envision spring 2022 even as you enjoy 2021. Take a walk around your yard (staying off muddy ground) and enjoy the earliest flowers. Witch hazels (Hamamelis) are in bloom and cornelian dogwood (Cornus mas) are close behind. As snow cover gives way, look for hellebore blooms to put in an appearance along with the early bulbs such as snowdrops, Siberian squills and crocus. Don’t have any planted bulbs or early shrubs? Make notes on where they would look great (and where the snow melts more quickly), take photos of the best sites, and tag them so you don’t forget where to plant this autumn for the spring of 2022.