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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of January 29, 2018

With most of the snow melted, it’s hard not to think of spring!  Let’s get into the spirit and talk about our gardens!

  • Native plants give birds the resources they need during migration, over frigid winters and through the nesting season.  Ninety-six percent of land birds feed insects and spiders to their chicks.  A single nest of chickadee babies may ingest as many as 9,000 caterpillars before fledging.  The native oak trees host caterpillars of more than 557 types of butterflies and moths.  It is just another great reason to plant native plants!
  • Plant elderberry this spring to attract the wood thrush to your landscape.  Thrushes depend on elderberry fruit to eat well prior to fall migration.
  • When considering the location for a new tree addition to your landscape, keep in mind that the average, medium-sized tree (oak, pine, maple, honey-locust, etc.) require approximately 1,000 square feet of surface area, or 3,000 square feet of soil volume, for adequate rooting to have enough soil in place to meet its overall requirements.  If a tree is planted in a location with less-than-adequate-sized volume of soil, it is, most likely, suffering or will soon be.  The more soil, the better!
  • If space is at a premium for your vegetable garden, consider crops that have high yields to get the most from the space you have.  Some suggestions would be tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, cucumbers, carrots, summer squash and most greens.  Leaf lettuce, chard and kale are perfect for small spaces because they can be harvested simply by cutting off their outer leaves.  Their centers, or crowns, remain intact and continue to produce more leaves for a continued harvest.
  • A Zebra Haworthia is a tough, little houseplant that requires very little maintenance.  Although it does prefer lots of sun, it will live almost indefinitely and maintain its compact shape in bright light without sun.  It is one of the best succulents for fluorescent-light gardens and is an excellent choice for a miniature desert scene with other succulents and cacti.  Insects almost never attack it and occasional dryness causes little or no harm.  Requirements are cactus soil, fertilizer all year with an all-purpose plant food and water well and then not again until the soil surface is nearly dry.  Good drainage is essential.

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