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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of October 9, 2017

It’s time to start thinking about next year’s garden!

Draw a plan of this year’s vegetable garden before you forget!  Knowing where this year’s crops were planted will help to rotate crops when setting up your garden next year.

Fall is a great time to have the soil tested in your vegetable garden.  Depending on the soil pH, you may need to add limestone to raise the pH or sulfur to lower the pH.  Either amendment are best applied in the fall because they take time to effect the soil.  The autumn rains and winter snow will help carry both into the soil.  Check with your local Master Gardeners groups or contact your local cooperative extension service for the nearest soil testing site near you!

If the temperatures are plummeting, especially overnight, where you live, it is best to harvest your tomatoes and let them ripen indoors.  The quality of the fruit will deteriorate when tomato plants are exposed to cold temperatures.  Exposure to temperatures in the lower 40’s and upper 30’s is enough to initiate deterioration of fruit.

Fall is good time to consider thinning of mildew-prone perennials in the garden.  Thinning these plants will help to increase air circulation around the plant and decrease the incidence of disease.  The arrival of pests may also be discouraged by better air flow.

To store Dahlia tubers for next year, wait one week after a blackening frost, where foliage turns dark and wilts.  Cut the stems to 1” – 2” from the soil surface and then dig them up.  Wash the clump of tubers to remove excess soil.  Dry stem side down for two to three days so moisture drains out of the hollow stems and won’t mold.  Store covered in slightly moist sphagnum peat or vermiculite in boxes or plastic bags with perforations.  Check every couple of weeks and air out if condensation forms or mist with water if the tubers are withering and drying out.  Keep at 40 to 50 degrees F.

To keep deer, ground hogs, rabbits and other rodents away from the landscape, mix together 4 Tbsp dry mustard, 3 Tbsp cayenne pepper, 2 Tbsp chili powder, 2 Tbsp ground cloves, 1 Tbsp tabasco with 2 quarts warm water.  Sprinkle around landscaped beds.

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