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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of August 28, 2017

When choosing plants to invite pollinators to your garden, consider the following –

  • Native plants are best
  • Diversity of bloom time
  • Flower Color
  • Flower Shape
  • Choose 10 – 20 species with at least three species blooming in each season
  • Include a species of native clumping grass for nesting and overwintering habitat
  • Flowering trees and shrubs provide nectar and pollen as well as nesting materials

More tips for your week in the garden and landscape:

  • Consider replacing the invasive vine Celastrus orbiculatus – Oriental Bittersweet with the native alternative vine Celastrus scandens – American Bittersweet.  Beware, however, due to its size, it does benefit from pruning to control its spread.
  • Junipers have a random-branching pattern with some growing points even where there is no foliage.  Therefore, these plants can be pruned back more severely than many other conifers.  Plants have either needlelike or scalelike leaves.  Species with scalelike leaves regrow following pruning better than do those with needlelike leaves.
  • Dried bay leaves act as a natural deterrent to keep rodents out of stored birdseed.  Leaving the dried leaves on a cupboard shelf also helps to repel ants in the pantry.
  • Overwintering caterpillars don’t always stay on the host plant they were eating when the cold weather arrives.  Instead they look for shelter wherever they can find a cozy pile of leaves.  Don’t be so tidy in cleaning up your gardens this fall.  The caterpillars will thank you! 
  • Use a garden spade when harvesting carrots.  Pulling them by hand will pull up the leaves only and leave the carrot in the ground.  Wedging the carrots out with the spade will leave them intact.  Remember that the most nutrients in a carrot are found closest to the skin.  Scrub the surface of the carrots to remove the soil and prepare with the skin on.  Store carrots in the vegetable drawer of the fridge to maintain their moisture.
  • When planning your fall bulb planting, keep in mind that hardy bulbs require good drainage, soppy conditions will cause them to rot.  They will thrive on hillsides and in raised beds.  For best results with your bulbs, enrich your soil with compost or an organic fertilizer before you plant.  Spread a layer of organic mulch over the planting.  The general rule of thumb when planting bulbs is to set them so that their tops are two to three times a deep as their diameter, a little deeper in sandy soil, slightly less deep in heavy, clay soil.  Tulips, however, are the exception.  Set them in holes that are between 6 and 8 inches deep.

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