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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of March 5, 2018

Signs of spring are upon us!

  • Monitor hemlocks for tiny white balls along the stems on the undersides of hemlock needles.  This may signify hemlock wooly adelgid (Adele’s tsugae) which is a fatal pest to hemlocks.  If you find the cottony masses are present, call an arborist for treatment options.
  • Now is a great time to clean out the tool shed and think about what didn’t work and what is in need of replacing.  Some essential tools to consider include a heavy-duty iron bow rake; a long-handled, round-pointed shovel; a square garden spade; hand pruners and a belt-mounted scabbard to hold them; a long-handled pair of loppers for larger branches; a small, curved pruning saw and a collapsible lawn rake.
  • Either put up or clean out nesting boxes for birds.  The birds are searching out nesting sites now and you can attract them with a clean bird house and perhaps some nesting materials.  Place any nesting materials either on the ground, in the crotch of a tree or hanging on a tree limb.  Placing a birdhouse near your vegetable garden will help with keeping insect pests such as grasshoppers and caterpillars under control.
  • Sow seeds of cold-hardy vegetables such as onions, leeks and celery now.  Because the early spring frosts are not harmful to these vegetables, they can be transplanted into the vegetable garden just as soon as the soil is dry and the garden is ready to be planted.
  • Check on your compost pile.  If it is not frozen, use a garden fork and dig into it and flip the compost over and over as much as you are able to.
  • Invest in a soil thermometer.  It will help to determine when to plant crops into the vegetable garden.  Many crops are dependent on not only the air temperature but the soil temperature as well to ensure transplanting success.
  • Pussy willow (Salix discolor Muhl.) is a native shrub that is most familiar when in bud.  The buds are eaten by ruffled grouse and the upright twigs are a common nest site of the American goldfinch.  The branches are beautiful when cut and brought in to decorate a vase.  Pussy willows are a sure sign that spring is on its way!

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