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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of June 13, 2016 By Ron Kujawski

Blueberry PlantI spent this past weekend engaged in one of my favorite but most frustrating tasks; I was composing. No, I’m not a music composer. These compositions consisted of combinations of plants set into containers for placement on our deck, steps, walkways, and in strategic locations in our gardens. After spending several weeks visiting retail nurseries and garden centers purchasing plants, I finally got to the point when I had to start planting: tall upright plants in the center, shorter but upright plants around those, and creeping or vining plants at the edges of the containers. Sounds simple, but the daunting task is in creating combinations of pleasing textures and colors. Fortunately, retail nurseries typically have displays of container plantings from which I drew much inspiration. Though mid-June, it’s not too late to create your own container gardens. It is fun and a test of your creativity and patience

Don’t be too patient in getting on with these other gardening adventures:

  • Harvest strawberries, but also keep an eye on your blueberry and raspberry plants. They seem to be ripening a little early this year. Prepare to place netting over the plantings to deter birds from taking more than their share of the harvest.
  • Check cole crops (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale) for cabbage worms. Apply either B.t. or the bacterial fermentation product, spinosad, to the plants for control.
  • Cut down flowering stalks that appear on rhubarb plants. Appearance of the flower usually means that plants are overcrowded or in need of fertilizer. Also, continue harvesting the rhubarb stalks. Any surplus rhubarb stalks we have are cut into one inch pieces, placed in freezer bags, and then tossed into the freezer. No blanching is necessary.
  • Be careful when cultivating around garden peas. Peas have shallow roots that are easily damaged. I put a light layer of straw mulch around peas to protect them from my heavy handed cultivation technique, and to keep weeds down and soil moisture high. The mulch will also keep the ground cool, something pea roots enjoy.
  • Collect grass clippings that clumped during mowing and apply these as mulch around roses. Otherwise, leave clippings on the lawn since they supply essential nutrients for grass plants after decomposing.
  • Check roses for rose slugs. These small, smooth or bristly critters look feed on the upper surface of leaves and skeletonize the leaves. Though no threat to the survival of rose plants, they can affect the aesthetic quality of the plants. Apply neem, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil (read and follow label directions) if control is deemed necessary.

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