Grow Massachusetts!

This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 22, 2018
  • Perform a soil test of the vegetable garden to see if you need to add limestone to raise pH or sulfur to lower pH.  Because both soil amendments act slowly to either raise or lower pH, they are best applied in the fall.  The rain in the autumn and the snow in the winter will help to incorporate these amendments into the soil.  Testing every 3-5 years is a good idea to determine the pH.
  • Waiting until the tops of potato plants have died back to harvest potatoes is a good idea.  If you are storing your potatoes, its best that they are fully mature prior to harvesting.  Storing the potatoes for one week at room temperature will aid in the healing of any bruising.  Long-term storage, however, would be best in a cool location.
  • Autumn is a great time to begin a compost pile if you don’t already have one.  Simply piling up leaves and organic debris in an out-of-the-way location in your yard is a good start!  Turn the pile beginning next spring once a month to speed up the decomposition of material.  Incorporate compost into your vegetable garden when it’s ready and you are sure to aid in fertilization and enhance the growth of your plants.
  • A beautiful evergreen for the winter landscape is Black Hills Spruce ‘Sunburst’ (Picea glauca var. densata ‘MonChet’).  Its golden-yellow branch tips light up the landscape.  ‘Sunburst’ is a pyramidal-shaped evergreen that gows slowly maturing to a size of 35-50 feet tall and 10-25 feet wide.  It thrives in full sun and moist, but well-drained, soil.  Hardy in zones 2-7.
  • For a boggy location in the landscape, consider cephalanthus occidentalis  (Buttonbush ‘Sugar Shack’).  Buttonbush is a native, North American shrub found along the water’s edge.  Its flower heads are balls of tiny, fragrant, white flowers that are a favorite of butterflies.  ‘Sugar Shack’ is only 3’-4’ tall and offers the bonus of red fruit and glossy leaves.  It is hardy in zones 4-10.
  • Lift tender summer bulbs such as gladiola, dahlia and canna with a garden fork after they’ve been blackened by frost.  Cut off the tops, label them and let them dry in the sun.  Don’t shake off all of the soil.  After they have dried, gladiola is best stored in open trays.  Store dahlias in a box of very slightly damp peat moss.

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