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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of January 14, 2019
  • When selecting the perfect full-sun site for your vegetable garden, be sure to consider drainage.  Watch the area closely.  Does water pool there after it rains?  Are there depressions that will accumulate standing water?  Roots of vegetable plants are unable to tolerate soils that remain waterlogged.
  • Observe the ground in the area where you would like to have a vegetable garden.  Is the existing vegetation sparse?  Sparse vegetation may suggest that the soil is gravelly or sandy and drains too quickly.  Vegetable crops need ample amounts of water to grow and produce abundant yields.  Creating the perfect soil to retain moisture may be a bit of a challenge.  Additions of organic matter to hold water or applying mulch such as hay, leaves or compost to reduce evaporation are both good ways of dealing with dry soils.
  • A final thought to consider when selecting the perfect spot for the vegetable garden is convenience.  Is the garden close enough to the house where you are most apt to enjoy your time while gardening?  Is the proximity to hoses/water and tools convenient?  Placing a vegetable garden, or any garden for that matter, in some far-off corner of your landscape where you will not see it nor enjoy it, is not the goal.  The reward, for the effort of establishing any garden, is enjoying the space!
  • Planting maple trees (acer spp.), spruces (picea spp.) and redbuds (cercis spp.) not only provide seasonal interest in the landscape but also feed the birds during the winter months.  The maples have winged seeds, spruces are adorned with seeded cones and redbuds produce bean-like seed pods that persist well into winter.
  • Shady, compacted soils near mature trees offer a planting challenge.  Consider ‘Catlin’s Giant’ carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans ‘Catlin’s Giant) for this difficult spot.  A low, mounding groundcover with shiny, bronze-tinted leaves make Catlin’s Giant a standout in the landscape.  Bright blue flowers emerge on short spikes above the foliage in early spring.  Catlin’s Giant will also grow in full sun and is hardy in zones 4-8.

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