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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of September 18, 2017

It may be mid-September but there is still time for color in the garden and to get the most of out of the vegetable garden!

  • At this time of year, it is best to pinch off any new flower buds produced on tomato plants.  It would be rather unlikely for these fruits to ripen before the first frost.  By removing the flowers, the plant can now put more energy and food reserves into the fruit already on the vine.  This may also help with ripening.
  • Harvest onions when their leafy tops have fallen over.
  • Pinch off new blossoms of pumpkin and winter squash.  This encourages the fruit to develop much faster and larger.
  • Buy straw to have on hand to use in the fall to mulch garlic, shallots and strawberry beds.
  • Remove spent vegetable plants and incorporate compost into the soil.  Plant winter rye on top as a green manure crop.  This will help to keep the garden soils healthy and productive if done as part of your annual fall routine.
  • Boxwood requires little pruning unless shearing into a hedge.  Prune whenever needed, however, keep in mind that where winters are cold, pruning at least one month before the first frost is best for the plant.
  • If woodchucks, mice, and moles are a problem in your garden, allium, lily-of-the-valley, snowdrop, hyacinth, and narcissus are almost rodent proof.  These choices will be around long after the rodents have munched on your tulips and lilies.
  • Whether potted or in the ground, garden mums instantly add more drama to any fall garden.  Many mum cultivars planted late in the season won’t return the following year.  However, in zones 5 and warmer, you can increase your plants’ chances with a 2” – 3” layer of organic mulch at their bases going into winter.
  • Some great garden mum choices for zones 5 and warmer include perennial chrysanthemums ‘Dazzling Stacy’, ‘Golden Andrea’ and ‘Red Rover’.
  • As a general rule, houseplants should be fertilized only when they are actively growing and when light and temperature are such that they can actually take advantage of the additional nutrients.  Fertilizing between mid-spring and mid-autumn is recommended with the exception of winter-flowering plants.
  • If you have had your houseplants outside all summer, give them a bath by swishing them in water prior to bringing them into the house.  Doing so will help to reduce insect populations such as aphids.  Simply fill a tub with water, hold the plant by the base and squish the foliage in the water until it has been thoroughly saturated.

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