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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of August 5, 2019
  • Purchase bare root raspberries and plant in autumn for best results.   Soak the plants overnight in a bucket of water.  Dig a hole 12” – 18” deep and amend with plenty of compost and manure.  Dust the inside of the hole with bone meal.  Spread the roots comfortably in the hole and set the crown of the plant 2” below the soil level.  Backfill and water in well.  Cut each cane back to 6” to aid in root development.  Space plants 3’ apart for ease of picking and rows 6’ apart.
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentais) is one of the few native shrubs that provide midsummer blooms for pollinators and also, one of the few that grows in wet soils and shade.  With flowers in shades of pink and white, buttonbush is visited by hummingbirds, butterflies and several bee species.  It grows up to 12’ tall and is hardy in zones 4-8.
  • When harvesting squash this season, keep in mind that butternut and acorn squash are ready to harvest when their skins become hard enough to resist scratching from your fingernail.  Use a sharp knife to slice through the stem several inches above the fruit.  Acorn squash can be eaten immediately, however, butternut squash’s flavor will improve with a month or two of storage.
  • Create an easy appetizer by drizzling a chunk of feta cheese with a bit of olive oil.  Then sprinkle on minced fresh oregano and serve with crusty bread and ripe tomatoes.  Enjoy!
  • The secret to growing any of the bramble fruits (raspberries or blackberries) is faithfully removing the canes once they’ve finished bearing fruit.  Neglected brambles quickly become an impenetrable thicket of dead branches.
  • Reka is a blueberry with dark, blue fruit that bears fruit in the early part of the season.  It grows well in light, sandy soils, peat and heavier clay loams.  It is also tolerant of wetter ground.  Reka is hardy in zones 5-7.
  • Water tomatoes regularly early in the day to avoid dry spells and then soakings.  Watering in this manner will reduce the incidence of pests, disease and cracking fruit.

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