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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!  We may be in a deep freeze but it can’t hurt to dream about a warm spring!

  • Begin planning your vegetable garden.  If it is your first, think small.  Include a few favorite vegetables that can be eaten fresh.  You can plan your vegetable garden using containers on your patio or deck.  It can also be a 2’ x 8’ raised bed built from boards.  Some favorite vegetable choices to begin with may be tomatoes, bush beans, leaf lettuce and summer squash.
  • If a strawberry bed is a consideration for your garden this year, keep in mind that for the best health and fruiting, each strawberry plant requires approximately 1 sq. ft. of space all to itself.  All newly planted strawberries need their flower buds pinched off until the plants are established.  Do this for approximately two months after planting.
  • When designing an outdoor dining space, consider pushing it away from the house and out into the garden.  Include in-ground plants or container plantings.  Create a space for a fire pit or pool for before or after dinner lounging.
  • A flowering dogwood tree is a beautiful ornamental tree.  It also serves as a valuable food source for many species of birds.  To invite woodpeckers, the American crow, American robin, Eastern bluebird, house sparrow and purple finch, incorporate a flowering dogwood into your landscape.
  • When repotting houseplants, add a layer of pebbles in bottoms of larger pots to help improve air circulation; it is a must for containers without drainage holes.  For small pots, use ½ inch of pebbles and for large pots, use up to 3” of pebbles.
  • Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia spp.), a close relative to Datura (Datura spp.), is a similarly toxic tropical species of plant.  It has drooping flowers and fleshy fruit.  All parts are highly toxic and can cause hallucinations, headache, delirium, rapid and weak pulse convulsions, and coma and can be fatal.  Cutting off spent flowers is wise to prevent the formation of seed pods because the seeds are particularly toxic.
  • Ornamental onions, or alliums as we know them, make ideal bloomers for in between spring tulips and summer perennials.  Unless they are crushes or bruised, they are basically scentless.  However, the onion quality is actually a wonderful deterrent to pesky deer, voles and chipmunks and keeps them from munching the plants.  Some gardeners plant allium amongst lilies, roses and vegetables to keep deer away.

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