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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of November 11, 2019
  • If you haven’t already done so, apply a thick mulch, ideally pine needles (for acidity) around blueberries.
  • Mulch planting beds of bulbs with evergreen boughs once the ground has frozen.  Mulch will help regulate soil temperature and prevent heaving with extreme temperature fluctuations.  Remove the boughs in spring before the shoots are higher than an inch.
  • Both flowers and leaves of the herb, borage (Borago officinalis), are edible.  Its star-shaped flowers turn from blue to pink as they age.  Being an annual, staggering the seedling dates will offer longer bloom times.  Honey bees are drawn to borage due to the high sugar content of its nectar.  Thriving in rich, fertile soil, borage does best in full sun and can grow to 2’ tall and wide.
  • If squash bugs were a problem in the vegetable garden this year, choose squash varieties next season that are tolerant of squash bugs.  Other tactics for keeping them at under control include shielding young plants with floating row covers; uncovering them when blossoms open.
  • Before roasting a chicken, stuff tarragon and garlic slivers under the breast and leg skin.  Delicious!
  • Consider adding spicebush (Lindera benzoin) to the landscape next season.  Spicebush is an excellent early spring food source for small bees and pollinators due to its fuzzy, yellow flowers that emerge on its bare branches.  A host for the swallowtail caterpillar, spicebush has dramatic, golden autumn foliage.  Thriving in zones 4-9, spicebush prefers moist, well-drained soil and sun to shade.
  • To create a landscape that supports wildlife in the winter include a diversity of vines, perennials, shrubs and trees of different heights to provide a complete package of food, shelter and nesting sites.
  • Cut down shoots of asparagus after a killing frost.  Apply limestone and compost to the bed.
  • Cover parsnip plants with soil if leaving them in the ground until spring.  If harvesting during the winter months is the plan, a covering of straw is recommended.
  • Apply mulch to beds of garlic, shallots and strawberries when the ground begins to freeze.
  • When planning containers for next season, consider bromeliads for a more tropical feel.  Their intriguing architectural forms blend well with cannas, bananas, elephant ears, coleuses and other beautiful foliage plants.  A very versatile bromeliad used in containers, window boxes and outdoor planting displays is Neoregelia.  Many bromeliads will thrive in part to full sun.

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