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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of March 19, 2018
  • If you haven’t already done so, it’s now time to start your seeds of kale, collards and lettuce indoors. You also can wait until the garden soil is workable and directly sow these seeds right into the vegetable garden.
  • Always use room-temperature water when watering your seedlings.  Cold water will slow the growth and development of seedlings.
  • To prevent damping-off, a common disease of seedlings started indoors, once the seeds are planted cover the surface of the mix with a thin layer of milled sphagnum moss.  Avoid overwatering and thin seedlings if they are too crowded.
  • Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus Moench) is a native shrub which produces nectar that attracts the ruby-throated hummingbird.  The brightly colored fruits are highly decorative with or without the foliage.  Coralberry grows in a variety of soils from dry and rocky to moist and rich in the sun or shade.  They are an excellent food source for wild turkey, American robin, cedar waxwing and the purple finch.
  • Casperita’ (C. pepa hybrid) is a small, hybrid, white pumpkin that has sweet, white flesh that some say resembles the taste of an acorn squash.  It has defined ribbing and holds its color well.  A wonderful choice for your garden this year!  It will reach .5 to 1 pound in 90 days.
  • Another shrub recipe using butternut squash and sage grown in your vegetable garden is not only a wonderful beverage but also is a great marinade for pork, lamb, or fish.

Butternut Shrub

One 4 lb. butternut squash, halved and seeded

Olive oil for greasing

1 ½ cups brown sugar

2 Tbsp. chopped sage

1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes

1 cup white wine vinegar

1.       Heat oven to 350 F. Roast squash skin side up on a greased cookie sheet until tender, approximately 30 minutes.  Cool.  In a food processor, puree with sugar, sage, and pepper.  Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill 2 days.  Stir daily.

2.      Whisk in vinegar and strain.  Transfer to a sanitized canning jar, cover tightly, and store chilled for one month.

3.      To serve, add ¼ cup shrub to 1 cup still or sparkling ice water or mix with spirits to taste.

This recipe from Chris Shepard, chef-owner of Houston’s Underbelly restaurant, published in Organic Life, November, 2016.

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