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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of March 13, 2017

For the novice gardener, there is a rule of thumb on border width that is derived from traditional English flower border concepts. According to the rule, the width or depth of a perennial flower border should be twice the height of the tallest plants to be included in the border. So, a border that will include five foot tall delphiniums should be about ten feet deep. The rule also says that the length of the border should be at least three times the width. In reality, the length is limited only by your ambition, depth of your pocketbook, or the proximity of the neighbor’s property line. If this discussion is somehow dissuading you from creating a flower border this spring, ignore the rule and start with a flower border that is three feet by six feet and build onto that as you gain more confidence and skill.

  • Consider buying a push reel mower as a means of reducing gasoline consumption. Today, reel mowers are light weight and easy to push.
  • Paint the handles of garden tools with bright orange or red paint. The tools will be easier to spot when laid down on the ground.
  • Do a little stretching before setting out to do serious work in the yard, especially if you have been sedentary for the past several months. It is so easy to pull or strain a muscle when plunging into intense physical labor on a cool March day.
  • Start seeds of lettuce, cabbage, collards, and kale indoors. If space is going to be a problem, wait until the soil is workable and then direct seed lettuce, kale, and collards into the vegetable garden.
  • Save mesh bags in which oranges are packaged. These mesh bags are great for storing onions, garlic, and shallots since all of these bulbs need good air circulation for proper curing and storage.

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