Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Planting Seeds

Plant seeds that need winter chilling like bachelor buttons and milkweed now. Would you like more butterflies? Plant swamp milkweed now. That dismal name disguises a plant with a lovely pink flower with a wonderful scent. And, later in the season, swamp plant will be visited by many butterflies, including our endangered Monarchs for which the milkweed is required to produce the next generation.


Wednesday, October 18, 2023

In the Vegetable Garden

Some vegetables will survive light to moderate frosts. Spinach can tolerate a light frost. Members of the cabbage family such as kale and Brussels sprouts taste sweeter after expose to frost. Root crops including parsnips, salsify and even carrots and turnips can be left in the ground for later harvests, especially if protected by a light covering of straw or chopped leaves. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Cleanup Time

Vegetables and flower beds need a thorough clean-up this month. Remove all old foliage. Bag any diseased or insect-infested material and send it to the dump. Taking these actions now allows your plants to get a fresh start next spring, without the risk of infection from this year’s problems. ‘Clean’ foliage should go into your compost bin or to your town’s compost center.


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Cleaning up Perennials

Cleaning up the perennial bed doesn’t mean cutting to the ground. The traditional advice for cleaning up your perennial garden in October was to cut everything to the ground. Science – and common sense based on observation – says that practice took away a valuable food source for both migrating and over-wintering birds. Instead, leave up the flower stalks with seed heads for birds. Migrating birds appreciate the food. And it is vital for those species that over-winter in New England. In addition to less work for you, the birds make your garden a more interesting place throughout the winter. The ‘no-cut’ policy isn’t universal, though. Always vigorously clean up any plant that has battled disease this year. Again, you’ll save yourself work and enjoy your garden more in the spring.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023


As you bring houseplants that spent the summer outdoors, it is a good time to consider repotting. Your plant almost certainly grew over the summer. And the roots almost certainly grew as much as the pot allowed. Getting a clean pot with fresh soil allows the plant to settle in for the winter without the salts that may have accumulated. Don’t be afraid to prune back any part of the plant that took advantage of the extra sunlight to stretch out—and now no longer fits its allotted space in the house.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Container Gardens

Despite July’s generous rains, watering may be needed in containers where limited room and exposure to heat and sun from all sides mean they dry out quickly. Check containers by wiggling your finger down in until you reach the second knuckle looking for wet soil. If it is dry, water until it comes out of the bottom of the container. And never leave pots sitting in water-filled saucers as this can lead to root rot.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Garden Maintenance

Cut back perennials that have finished blooming. They’ll look neater and many will surprise you with a second bloom when prevented from setting seed the first time. Keep picking your vegetable gardens. By picking, you are preventing your plants from going to seed so they keep producing produce. If you have more vegetables than you can use, offer it to friends or call a local food cupboard and ask for their drop-off days. Replant this month for a more bountiful fall crop: green beans, peas, cucumbers, carrots, kohlrabi, summer squash, early sweet corn, green onions. Water seeded areas by hand daily until the new plants are up and a couple of inches tall. Cover the newly planted seeds with row cover to help keep them cooler and out of pecking range of birds. You can take the row covers off when the plants are several inches tall.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

In the Ornamental Garden

Watch for insect and disease on annuals and perennials. Check on line for recommendations but also check with a good local nursery for recommendations, especially if this is a new problem for you. It's in their interest to make a regular customer of you by helping you solve your gardening problems. Treat problems as soon as they appear and before they can spread.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Strawberry Plants

Strawberry plants will have sent out many runners (baby plants on a leash) by now. There are two ways to turn them into bearing plants next year. One, fill small pots with quality soil and put them down near the mother plant. Lift any plantlets, and using unbent paperclips, hold them in place in the pot. After the new plant has developed roots (try a gentle tug), cut it connection to its mother. Plant them in their new home by the end of the month to give them time root itself before winter.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Weed as Though Your Plants’ Lives Depend on it

They do! Your plants will be competing with weeds for water, sunlight and nutrients in July, and the weeds are, too often, better at grabbing available resources. Your flowers and vegetables win the fight only when the weeds lie, gasping for breath, in the aisles or in a bucket. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Be Patient!

Whether it is blueberries turning blue or tomatoes turning red. The first sign of color is just that. Real flavor will develop over the next few days so as the berry and tomato increase in size and sugar content. With tomatoes, do not remove healthy foliage. Fewer leaves mean less food produced for the plant, and for you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Leave the Lawn Long

If you haven’t already, move the blade on your mower up to 3”. The higher grass will shade its own roots, making them less water thirsty while also shading out new weeds. Consider replacing the grass in hard-to-grow areas (shady areas for one) with perennials or shrubs that are happier in shade and require less maintenance while providing flowers and interest throughout the year.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

A Very Different Summer for 2023

Remember the summer of 2022? It would be hard to forget: especially the season-long watering bans and brown lawns. Thus far, 2023 precipitation is normal for the year across New England and was slightly ahead for June. Rainfall alone is no guarantee of a great perennial garden or bumper crops of vegetables, but it is a much more hopeful situation than the one we faced by August of last year.

Wednesday, June 28, 2023


What’s the best mulch for your vegetable seedlings? A layer of heat-treated straw, shredded leaves, newspapers or grass clippings placed around your vegetable seedlings will conserve soil moisture without introducing weed seeds. Untreated straw contains weed seeds that will happily germinate in your garden. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Set Summer House Plants Out

Set summer house plants out this month. Most require some shade, on a porch or under a tree, at least until they have adapted to their new environment. Remember to keep saucers under plants placed on the ground to reduce pests entering the containers and entering your home in the fall.


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Swallowwort Alert!!!

Be aware of the growing colonies of invasive weeds such as black swallowwort. It looks like a vine as it grows, then a pretty purple flower appears and finally a pod full of seeds. While the seeds look somewhat like milkweed pods, they will kill monarch larva that hatch from eggs laid on these plants. Cut down the vines before the flowers ripen into seeds. Weed whackers, or clippers for small stands, mower for larger ones. But beware-- they will re-sprout. Just keep cutting them until they don’t return. Or in your garden, dig out the root mass, bag it and leave it in the sun to kill. Do not compost or throw any swallowwort into other areas.


Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Growing Vining Plants?

If you are growing vining plants - cucumbers, tall (indeterminate) tomatoes, pole beans or flowering vines, construct and install sturdy supports now. While seeing a small tomato plant inside a large cage may seem strange, training the vines to the cage while they are young is relatively easy. The plants will resent you trying to weave them through the supports as they get older and less flexible. Velcro strips are an easy way to attach the plant quickly without damaging the stems. And if you buy supermarket lettuce, they come with Velcro-like strips that can be trimmed to an appropriate length do the job for free.


Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Ready Your Vegetable Garden for Spring!

Repair any fence issues caused by winter damage. If you haven’t already done so, order seeds by phone or computer. If they are sold out of what you want, they can offer alternatives. Lay out your vegetable beds on paper to save time when the soil is ready to plant. This month, you can plant your ‘cold weather’ crops, including spinach, peas and beets.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Weed Out the Invasives

While the ground is soft, April is a great time to pull out invasive plants such as Japanese barberry (shown here), and burning bush, and common weeds that may have re-seeded into your garden. Make certain you get as much as the root as possible. “Painting” cut roots with weed killer will prevent them from quickly growing back and making more work later in the growing season. Replace these with garden friendly American natives such as blueberries and itea -- spring bloomers with fabulous fall color that lasts longer than burning bush.