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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of April 3, 2017

Hopefully Mother Nature is done with winter and spring is upon us!

  • Hardening off your plants: In the spring, your flowers and vegetables need some time to get used to the cooler outdoor temperatures gradually. Placing them outdoors during the day and bringing them in at night to a cool spot, such as an unheated porch or garage, will toughen them up so that a dip in the nighttime temperatures will not be so damaging. This takes a few days, but it is well worth the effort! In the case of a sudden cold snap, move your potted plants under cover to a garage or porch and cover your bedding plants with newspaper or an old bed sheet. Taking care in the early spring will ensure your happy plants bloom long into the season!
  • If you pick up Easter plants like tulips, hyacinths and daffodils this week, be sure to keep them as cool as possible. Mimicking the colder outdoor night temperatures of spring (30’s and 40’s) makes them last longer in your home. Since houses aren’t normally that cold, pick very tight flowers when shopping early, to make sure they are at their prime during the holiday.
  • Planting by Temperature: These plants are safe to grow when the temperature dips to 20 degrees! Flowers include pansies and snapdragons. It’s also time to plant many vegetables like peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuce, and other greens!
  • If you are lucky enough to have raised beds, you can start planting earlier than most, as your soil will dry out and be workable sooner than ground-level beds. Soil can be dug without harm to the structure when no water comes out when you squeeze a handful.
  • Looking to add fragrance to your garden? Lilacs are an excellent choice! If you have one already that needs a trim, resist the urge to prune it on the first warm day. Wait until June, right after it blooms, and cut back the oldest, thickest stems.
  • Now that the weather is warming up, it might be time to consider starting a compost pile. Here are some tips from Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist R. Wayne Mezitt, of Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton and Chelmsford.

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