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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of September 25, 2017

Let’s start thinking and preparing for next spring with some simple steps now!

  • A recipe for an organic weed killer – Mix together one gallon of vinegar, two cups of Epsom salts, ¼ cup of Dawn blue dish detergent.  Administer with a handheld sprayer.
  • Discontinue deadheading (removing spent flowers) 8- 10 weeks prior to the first frost.  Doing so will allow tender new growth to harden off prior to potentially cold damaging weather.  If your roses have hips, allow them to develop naturally.  You will be rewarded with seasonal interest.
  • To save tender gladiolas this fall, dig them up carefully (approximately 6-8 weeks after bloom) using a garden fork rather than a shovel.  Doing so will lessen the chance of stabling the corm.  Yellowing foliage tells you that your gladiola is ready to dig.  Brush off as much excess soil as possible then cut the stem off to 1” – 2” above the corm, leaving the remainder on to dry while curing.  You can cure the corms by placing them on a screen made of ½” hardware cloth tacked to an old window frame.  This will provide good air movement during the curing stage.  Cure the corms for approximately 2-3 weeks.  Once they are dry, remove any dried up corms and discard.  Place the small cormels in a mesh or paper bag in a dry, well-ventilated location at 35 – 40 degrees for winter storage.
  • At this time of year, irrigation is advisable for any woody shrubs or trees and perennials.  Especially those that were just installed.  It is very important that all plant species go into the winter very well hydrated.
  • Attention should be given to perennial gardens.  This is the perfect time of year to begin planning dividing and thinning of perennials to increase air circulation in the garden.
  • Aloe vera plants’ gel is high in Vitamin C and reputed to have numerous health benefits.  Some people slice the leaves lengthwise and use the gel to soothe sunburn.  Be careful, however, not to get the yellow layer (just beneath the rind) on your clothes.  It will stain; and if ingested, causes diarrhea and cramping.
  • Some bulbs to have on hand for winter forcing and are suitable for spring planting when the ground thaws are Narcissus ‘Bridal Crown’, ‘Abba’, Ice Follies’, Garden Princess’ ‘Johann Strauss’ and ‘Jumblie’.

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