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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of May 7, 2018
  • An old wives’ tale believed to inhibit the larvae of the cabbage fly, is to twist a spiral of narrow aluminum foil around the roots of a young cabbage plant when planting.  Have you ever tried this?
  • Ageratum houstonianum (Floss Flower) is a beautiful annual and available in a variety of colors.  The best cultivar for the garden, as opposed to the garden’s border, is ‘Blue Horizon’ which provides an upright habit, lots of flowers and sturdy stems strong enough to be cut and brought inside.  Plant in full sun.
  • The River Birch (Betula nigra) is a beautiful tree.  It is native to the Eastern half of the U.S.  Its satiny, exfoliating bark is salmon pink.  The cultivar ‘Cully’ (Heritage) has some of the most exceptional coloration with bark in shades of salmon, cream and white.  River Birch forms a graceful silhouette reaching 40’-70’ tall and 40’-60’ wide with dark twigs.  The tree can be found in a single trunk form, however, it is often multi-stemmed which is particularly attractive in the winter months.  Its small, diamond shape leaves turn bright yellow in autumn.  River Birch will tolerate wet soil and is a useful tree in rain gardens.  It is hardy in zones 4-9.
  • If space allows in your vegetable garden, plant potatoes.  Using seed potatoes, plant each piece about 4” deep and 10” apart in rows that are 2’ apart.  Early season varieties such as ‘Norland’, ‘Anoka’, and ‘Irish Cobbler’ are great to plant now.  Wait until the last frost date to plant late season varieties such as ‘Superior’, ‘Katahdin’ and ‘Kennebec’.  The late season varieties are best for winter storage.
  • Avoid using manure as a soil amendment where potatoes are to be planted.  Manure will increase the chances of scab disease on the tubers.
  • You are able to tell if grubs may be a problem in your lawn by tugging at dead grass patches.  A tuft that pulls out easily usually has had its roots eaten by grubs.
  • Start seeds of pumpkin and squash indoors.
  • Prune roses by cutting back all brown, dead canes to live green stems.

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