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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 2, 2017
  • A great recipe to keep chipmunks and other rodents away from your flowering planting is to mix 3 tablespoons of cayenne, one tablespoon of ammonia, one tablespoon of baby shampoo and two cups of hot water.  Mix well.  Let sit overnight.  Apply to flowering plants with a handheld sprayer.
  • When we think of planting bulbs at this time of year, we often concentrate on brightly colored spring bulbs of tulips and daffodils.  Surprise!  There are bulbs that bloom in the fall.  Planting times may vary and be sure to mark where you plant.  Most autumn-flowering bulbs sprout in spring and then die back.  They reappear, often without leaves, when it’s time to bloom.  Some hardy choices for zones 4 & 5 are ‘Autumn Queen’ meadow saffron (Colchicum), Autumn Crocus (Colchicum byzantinum), and Magic Lily (Lycoris squamigera).
  • A great hostess gift!  Layers of sand in a trifle bowl suggest both desert and dessert.  Coarse sand and stones in the top create a miniature landscape that features aeoniums and treelike crassula tetragona.  It was assembled using a funnel (a cone made from heavy paper) to place colored sand along the inside of the glass.  A non-draining composition like this should be watered minimally.
  • Let the foliage of cannas dry a few days after a killing frost, then cut stems 3” from the rhizome and just above the soil line.  Dig up the clump.  Wash off all the soil.  Let the rhizomes cure several days in a cool, well-ventilated area.  Be sure they are dry before storing.  Place in moist peat, vermiculite or sand in covered boxes.  You can also store them loosely in plastic bags, checking periodically to release condensation or mist with water if they are drying up.  Rhizomes should be humid, not wet.  Store at 40 to 50 degrees F.
  • To ripen green tomatoes, place them in a paper bag with a ripe apple.  Why an apple?  As fruit ripens, it give off ethylene, a naturally occurring growth regulator.  Ethylene, being a gas, can permeate the air and stimulate the repining of adjacent fruit.  In the same way, ethylene given off by the apple will hasten the ripening of tomatoes in the bag.

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