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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 23, 2017
  • Water the soil well around a clump of chives and dig them up.  Divide the clump into smaller clumps and pot one clump up for inside use throughout the winter.  Before bringing indoors, cut back the tops and leave the pots outside for two or three hard frosts.  Replant the unpotted clumps back into the garden.
  • If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to plant your garlic.  Prepare the garden soil by incorporating some well-rotted manure or compost into the soil.  If available, work in some wood ash.  The potassium found in wood ash promotes the healthy growth of garlic.  Garlic does best in deep, nutrient-rich soil.  Applying a general-purpose, natural fertilizer according to label directions over the surface of the planting area is recommended.  Separate individual cloves from the bulbs on the day of planting and not before.  Plant pointed side up at a depth of 2”.  The largest cloves will produce the largest bulbs.  Space the cloves 4” apart within the rows.  Once the ground begins to freeze, cover the rows with 3” of straw.  In spring, at the first appearance of garlic shoots, uncover the plants but leave the straw alongside the plants as a mulch.
  • Leave spent plants of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in the garden to deter cabbage worms in next year’s crops.
  • When preparing the landscape for winter, consider cutting down ornamental grasses.  They break during the winter months, fall over or will lose their good color.  They can look unsightly.
  • Continue watering newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials.  Established gardens may need water as well if it has been dry.  It’s important for all plants to go into the winter with sufficient moisture.
  • Prune Ilex spp. (Holly) as needed for good structure and form but avoid cutting back into leafless portions of the plant if you want regrowth.  Prune while the plant is dormant.
  • The Hardy kiwi vine (Actinidia argute) is being reviewed by the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group and being listed as Likely Invasive.  Hardy kiwi vine poses a threat to forests by growing more than 20-35 feet per year and forming dense mats of intertwining vines that can overwhelm other vegetation including trees.  The weight of the vines during the growing season, in addition to snow and ice loading on the vines in the winter, destroys tree canopies.

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