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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 16, 2017
  • Remove bedding annuals that have succumbed to frost and compost them.  If you leave them in place, eggs of insect pests and spores of disease can remain to cause problems for next year.
  • Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and coreopsis (coreopsis spp.) are an excellent food source for wild birds during the winter months.  Leave them intact this fall rather than cutting them down.  They won’t self-sow aggressively.
  • Increase the frequency of mowing on areas of your lawn where leaves collect.  Shredding the leaves as you mow allows them to be sifted into the turf.  Their decay aids in improving the soil and provides a slow-release source of nutrients for the lawn and nearby trees.  You can also collect the shredded leaves with the grass clippings and add them to the compost pile.
  • If you have been reusing the soil in your containers for several years, give it new life by dumping out the soil onto a tarp or into a wheelbarrow.  Mix it with pine needles, perlite and vermiculite in equal parts.  Put it back into the container.  You can also compost it and start with fresh soil next year!
  • To deter deer from your landscape, be diligent about raking up acorns in the fall if oak trees grow on or near your property.  Acorns are a basic deer food.  Pick up crabapples and orchard fruits as these constitute a deer feast too.  Grapes, peaches, cherries, plums and nectarines are other favorites.
  • Remove fallen leaves of maples out of the garden in the autumn.  These leaves will mat down and hold water which will contribute to the potential for crown rot on the perennials.  Also, if large quantities of leaves litter the garden, most of it should be removed.
  • Place pumpkins and winter squash in a warm spot for one or two weeks to enable the skins or rinds to fully cure.  They’ll keep much better.  Store these crops in a cool (but not cold) location that is dry and dark.  Winter squash and pumpkins keep best at storage temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees.

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