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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of December 31, 2018
  • To help the birds survive the winter, offer a high-fat diet laden with berry-producing trees and shrubs such as bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), sassafras, magnolia, and dogwood.  The cold temperatures will soften and sweeten the fruits of most trees and shrubs making them more palatable for birds.  More choices for the landscape include hawthorn (crataegus spp.), sumac (Rhus spp.), chokeberry (Aronia scandens), juniper (Juniperus spp.), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), and crabapples (Malus spp.).
  • If you have decided to take the leap into growing vegetables this spring and this will be your first vegetable garden, think small.  Plan your first garden to include a few of your favorite vegetables grown in containers on your deck or patio.  You could also plant them in a 3’ x 6’ raised bed.
  • For your vegetable garden this spring, consider planting crops that produce the highest yields for the space used.  Some thoughts may be tomatoes, beans, peppers, leafy greens and bush-type squashes.
  • Choose a full-sun site for your vegetable garden.  Full sun means a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight, however, the more the better.  Almost all vegetable crops grow best in full sun.
  • A great groundcover choice for northern climates, as it does not tolerate heat and humidity well, is barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides).  An attractive, semi-evergreen groundcover, barren strawberry offers the additional bonus of a spring display of yellow flowers.  Growing only 3” – 6” tall and thriving in full sun to part shade, it is hardy in zones 4-7.
  • Keeping the root ball consistently moist on a living Christmas tree is the key to its success.  The less time it spends in the house, the greater its chances of survival.  By New Year’s Day, move it to a cool breezeway or garage for 24 hours to help it acclimate to the temperature change.  It is then best to place the root ball into a previously excavated hole and cover with mulch to help with temperature fluctuations.  Keep the tree well-watered until the ground freezes hard.  Complete planting of your live Christmas tree in the early spring.

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