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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 30, 2017

Let’s get ready for fall!

  • Wash containers and window boxes that held annual plants with a solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.  Wooden containers should also be treated with a wood preservative such as linseed oil.
  • Harvest root crops such as turnips, rutabagas, beets and carrots as needed but leave the rest to continue their growth.  The same is true for leafy greens like kale and chard.  Frost will not hurt them and can actually improve their flavor.
  • If you planted flowering kale in your containers for a beautiful fall display, remember that these reddish, purple and white leaves are an edible vegetable. Individual leaves may be picked from the plants as needed in the kitchen.
  • While cleaning out your vegetable garden, turn under remnants of vegetable crops to a depth of approximately 6 inches.  The vegetation will decompose and contribute organic matter to the soil.  Most disease-causing organisms will die when worked into the soil.  Using a tiller and turning the soil over can help control insects because it will expose them to the harsh weather conditions.  Tilling in the fall also makes spring vegetable garden preparation that much easier.
  • Harvest Brussel sprouts after a frost.  Cut or break off the sprouts as needed.  The sprouts that remain on the plant will continue to grow well into the fall.
  • While cutting back your perennials in preparation for winter, look for signs of insect pests in the caterpillar family.  They cause injury to herbaceous perennials through boring into stems, roots or flower buds.  Generally, moths that bore into herbaceous perennials can cause distinctly different damage to herbaceous plants with complete death of major stems or whole plants.
  • Mountain Laurel needs little pruning beyond what is necessary to keep the plant shapely and to remove dead or diseased wood.  Prune right after the flowers fade.  If necessary, make drastic cuts to promote young growth to replace a leggy branch or even renovate a whole, overgrown shrub.
  • It is now time to think about turning off all water and irrigation systems.  It is best to also drain all hoses.

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