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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of August 22, 2016 By Ron Kujawski

The most frequent question I get lately is “Can I transplant perennials and shrubs now?”  The answer is an unequivocal “It depends.”  (I’ve really mastered the skill of the cagey response.  I should be in politics.)

With a month to go before fall arrives, this is a good time to transplant certain plants.  “Transplanting” refers not only to digging and moving plants now in the ground but also to planting container grown and balled and burlapped plants available at retail nurseries and garden centers.  Generally speaking, plants which are hardy to this region can be transplanted in late summer and early fall. On the other hand, plants which are borderline hardy are best planted or transplanted in early spring.  So, check the hardiness rating of plants intended for transplanting.

In the meantime, check out these items on your gardening checklist:

  • Allow green beans (snap beans and pole beans), which have gotten too large and old, to fully ripen on the plants.  These can then be harvested as dry beans when the pods turn brown.  These dry beans can be used the same as any dry bean for baking, for soups and other bean dishes.
  • Don’t bother to pull up dill and cilantro plants that have gone to seed.  Let the seed mature on the plants and then fall to the ground.  These seeds will sprout next year, giving you a new crop of these herbs without any expenditure of time, money, or effort.  This process works best if dill and cilantro are given a permanent block of space in the vegetable or herb garden.
  • Sow seeds of radish, spinach, leaf lettuce, turnip greens and beet greens.  Since these particular crops tolerate moderate frosts, they’ll grow well into the fall.
  • Chop up cornstalks after the ears have been harvested.  Chopping the stalks will speed their breakdown when tossed onto the compost pile or when turned under in the garden.  There’s also some evidence that chopping cornstalks will destroy the larvae of European corn borer.
  • Remove the spent flowers from tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  This encourages the development of flowering side branches prevents the plants from reseeding.  The problem with reseeding is that the offspring revert to plants with less attractive flowers than the hybrids.  Also, seedlings produced by reseeding are often more aggressive than the hybrids and will out-compete them.
  • Include windflower (Anemone blanda) on your list of spring flowering bulbs to be planted this fall.  This hardy member of the typically tender anemone clan produces white, pink, or blue daisy-like flowers on low growing plants with finely dissected leaves.  Windflowers look best when planted in mass in a natural setting beneath deciduous trees.  There are also great plants for rock gardens.

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