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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of February 26, 2018
  • Of all species of honeysuckles, the L. maackii is especially valuable for birds because it holds its profuse fruit through late fall.  It is a favorite food source for many species of birds including the American robin, Eastern bluebird, cedar waxwing, purple finch, dark-eyed junco and many others.
  • A great reason to include junipers in your landscape is because bluebirds and many other species of birds rely on juniper berries as a food source during the winter months.  Juniper’s thick, evergreen foliage is another bonus offering nesting sites and shelter.
  • To prepare new and used seed-starting containers, be sure to wash all containers thoroughly with soap and water.  Because using disinfected containers is critical to the success of growing your own seedlings, it is important, after washing, to rinse the containers with a mixture of either 1 part bleach or hydrogen peroxide to 9 parts water to sterilize the containers.  Young plants are very susceptible to disease.
  • When starting seeds indoors, providing a source of heat either by means of overhead lights or a sunny window is helpful for germination.  Most vegetable seeds germinate best at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees F.  Many experienced gardeners prefer using a propagation mat placed under the trays allowing the warmth to be generated under the seedlings.
  • Moistening the germinating mix when starting seeds indoors before filling the flats and trays is helpful.  The germination mixes consist mostly of peat moss which absorbs the water very slowly.  Having the soil moist when beginning, and before planting the seeds, is ideal.
  • Just because the ice has melted off your ornamental pond, don’t feed the fish just yet!  They are still dormant and uneaten food will contaminate the pond.  Don’t resume feeding until the water temperature rises to 50 degrees F.
  • If the fall chore of cutting down the ornamental grasses didn’t get completed, now is a great time to do so.  Cut them to the ground and compost the tops.  The new shoots will soon be sprouting.
  • If you are not a do-it-yourselfer and haven’t serviced your lawn mower yet, drop it off to your favorite repair shop.  Have them sharpen the blades, replace worn belts, spark plugs and air filters.  Changing the transmission fluid, oil, oil filter and engine coolant is a good idea too!  You’ll beat the spring rush!

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