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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of January 28, 2019
  • Keeping bird feeders full during the cold winter will help birds maintain body weight lost as a result of trying to keep warm.  Try to place feeders, with different types of seed, at varying heights to accommodate the many species of birds.
  • If space is limited in the vegetable garden, avoid crops such as pumpkins, sweet corn, winter squash and melons.  All of these require ample room to grow.
  • Space in the vegetable garden can be used more efficiently by growing crops in a vertical fashion.  Grow crops such as cucumbers, pole beans or tomatoes on trellis’ or fences to save gardening space.
  • Growing vegetables in containers is another way to save space in the garden.  Containers may vary in size and shape; drainage holes are important.    Before using a container to grow a vegetable plant, check to make sure that it never held any toxic substances.  Tomatoes, pepper, bush and pole beans, cucumber and summer squash are excellent choices for container gardening.
  • ‘Everleaf’ basil is a new Genovese-type variety that has delicious basil flavor and aroma.  One of the best growth characteristics of ‘Everleaf’ is that its foliage quality is maintained for a long time because it is slow to bolt.  ‘Everleaf’ is fast growing, compact and mildew resistant.  Plant in containers or directly into the garden and harvest the leaves frequently to encourage new growth.
  • A beautiful, resilient, evergreen groundcover that withstands dry, windy, hot conditions is bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).  Plant in well-drained, acidic soil and enjoy early flowers that are a favorite of native bees.  Adorned with cranberry red fruits in the fall, bearberry attracts birds.  Growing only 4” tall, bearberry spreads to form a broad, dense mat.  It is hardy in zones 2-6.
  • Cup plant, compass plant or sometimes referred to as rosinweed (Siliphium spp.) are tall, sunflower-like perennials that are long-lived.  These beautiful flowers attract a variety of pollinators to the landscape.  They also provide excellent seed for songbirds.  The common name of cup plant refers to the leaves that clasp the stem, forming cups that collect rainwater.  It’s common to see birds drinking from these cups.  Thriving in full sun, cup plant blooms in the summer and can reach heights of up to 7’.  They are hardy in zones 3-9.

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