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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of February 12, 2018
  • The Common Winterberry, (Ilex verticillata (L.) Gray, is a striking shrub when its leaves fall off to showcase its beautiful red berries.  Its beauty enhances the shores of ponds and other low, moist ground.  Robins, mourning doves, woodpeckers, thrushes, bluebirds and cardinal use the plant for an excellent source of food.  It will also attract the red-winged blackbird for nesting.
  • Plan on planting sunflowers in your garden this summer.  The white-breasted nuthatch are among the many bird species that fatten up on sunflower seeds to survive cold, northern winters.
  • Before you plant your vegetable garden, consider doing a soil test.  Collect a sample of soil by taking your trowel and filling it with soil from the top 6” to 8” of soil and do this in 10 different spots within your garden.  Mix the 10 samples together and place approximately one cup of the mixture into a zip-lock plastic bag and send it off for soil testing.  In return, you will receive test results with recommendations for corrections to make, if needed, for soil pH and plant nutrient levels.  Soil pH is important because it controls how much of the nutrients are available to the plants.  To grow vegetables, soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7.0.
  • If you are excited to get started planning your vegetable garden, now is a great time to get a few chores done.  You can mail in your seed catalog orders, inventory your seed starting supplies and inventory, clean and repair, if needed, your gardening tools.  Now is also a great time to sow seeds of parsley and thyme.  If you would like to have potted plants of oregano, chives or basil on your patio this summer, start those seeds indoors now!
  • Spathiphyllum; Peace Lily and White Flag are all names of the same houseplant.  A virtually pest-free plant, the peace lily is, however, sensitive about quantity of light; too much quickly causes yellow, black and brown burn spots; too little results in spindly, pale, undersize new growth and a rapid decline of the plant.  Bright light is needed in a north window or perhaps a few feet from a sunny east, south or west window.  Feed an all-purpose plant food all year and water enough to maintain a range between wet and moist.  Dryness to the point of wilting causes leaf tips to die back.

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