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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of April 2, 2018
  • Begin to keep a watchful eye on strawberry beds and garlic beds.  Check to see if plants are showing signs of growth.  As soon as this happens, remove half of the mulch covering these beds and leave it in between the rows.  Check back in 7-10 days; if the weather is mild, remove the rest of the mulch.  Keep the mulch handy.  If the nighttime temperatures are forecasted to dip below 28 degrees, put the mulch back on and keep it in place until the freezing temperatures disappear.
  • The wild raisin (Viburnum nudum L. var. cassinoides L.) prefers moist, shady sites and grows 6’-12’ tall.  Another common name is witherod.  It will produce flowers from May to July and produces fruit from September to midwinter.  The wild raisin grows in moist soils and is very salt tolerant making it an excellent choice for coastal plantings.  It is extremely hardy, tolerates pruning and grows at a moderate rate requiring little care.  It is hardy to zone 2 and serves as an excellent food source for the pileated woodpecker, American robin, eastern bluebird and purple finch.
  • The tupelo is a shade tree native to eastern North America and sometimes referred to as black gum or sour gum.  Michael Dirr, an author, plant breeder and University of Georgia professor emeritus calls the tupelo “one of our best, most consistent, and most beautiful trees in the fall.”  Small, spidery flowers are enticing to bees which helps to produce what most people refer to as a “superior” honey or tupelo honey.  The flowers later form dark blue sour fruits enjoyed by various wildlife.  Tupelo prefers moist, acidic soil and tolerates poor drainage.  It is hardy in zones 4-9.
  • The self-pollinating ‘Illinois Everbearing’ mulberry produces sweet, juicy fruit that reach 1 ½” or larger over 6-8 weeks in the summer.  Hardy to zones 4-8, this mulberry is extremely cold hardy and will reach up to 35’ tall.  The squirrels and the birds will love this tree!
  • A delicious culinary use for basil, outside of the ordinary, is to cut a 10” x 10” square of aluminum foil and set it shiny side down.  Arrange slices of zucchini, onion and tomato in the center of the square and toss several basil leaves in.  Fold the square around the vegetables to make a tight packet and then bake in a 350 degree oven (or grill) for 20 minutes!  Enjoy!

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