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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of May 13, 2019
  • The best time to prune forsythia is immediately after flowering.  New buds for next year’s flowers will begin to appear in early June.
  • Begin hardening off seedlings of frost-resistant spring vegetables for outdoor planting if you’ve grown your own.  One week before planting, place the tray of seedlings outdoors in a shady and wind-protected spot.  Begin with a few hours a day and increase the time and sun exposure outdoors each day until planting.  Seedlings of onions, lettuce, leeks, swiss chard, kale, collards and cabbage will truly benefit.
  • Direct sow seeds of carrots, dill, beets, parsnips, potatoes, radishes and spinach now.  Placing a floating row cover over these crops will get them off to a great start.
  • Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) is a beautiful, late-summer blooming shrub that pollinators are attracted to.  Fragrant, white or pink wand-like blossoms bloom on 2’-8’ tall shrubs.  Thriving in full sun or partial shade, summersweet displays golden fall foliage that lights up the garden.  Water regularly.  Summersweet is hardy in zones 4-9.
  • When planting blueberries, it is best to amend sandy and heavy soils with sphagnum peat moss.  Peat moss will help acidify the soil as well as lighten up compaction.  Ideally, mix 40% of the native soil with 50% sphagnum peat moss and 10% compost.  Adding water to the peat moss a day or two in advance of planting so that the moisture has a chance to be fully absorbed aids in planting.
  • With a taste very much like celery, lovage is easier to grow.   Growing up to 5’ tall, lovage blooms in mid-summer.  The leaves can be used fresh in salads and fresh or dried in soups, stews or sauces.  Mix some fresh lovage into potato salad for an amazing flavor!  Growing in full sun to partial shade, lovage is hardy to zone 4.
  • When planting sunflowers in your garden this year, avoid “pollenless” or double-petaled ornamental varieties.  A large diversity of bees will be attracted to the pollen-producing sunflowers due to the high sugar concentration in their nectar.  Reaching heights of up to 8’, sunflowers grow in sun to partial shade and will bloom in late summer to autumn.

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