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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of September 9, 2019
  • When planning a pollinator garden, consider plants such as coneflower and zinnias.  These flowers provide butterflies with a stable landing platform on which to perch and sip nectar with minimum effort.
  • Pinch off tops of tomato plants and the new flower buds.  This will help ripen the existing fruit on the plant quicker.
  • Pinch off the tips of brussell sprout plants for larger sprouts and harvest them from the bottom up as they mature.
  • Don’t harvest winter squash or pumpkins until they attain their full mature coloring or until after the first light frost.
  • Purchase straw now to have on hand to mulch garlic, shallots and strawberry beds.
  • Pull up spent vegetable plants, add compost to the soil and plant winter rye as a green-manure crop.  Vegetable garden soils will remain healthy and productive if this is done annually after all crops are harvested.
  • Harvest and use tomatoes that have split immediately.  If left on the plant, they will attract sap beetles and decay-causing fungi.
  • For a clematis with the best blue flowers, look for ‘Arabella’, ‘Emilia Plater’, ‘Ken Donson’ or ‘Prince Charles’.
  • Cut an eggplant lengthwise, sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper, one clove of minced garlic, a slice of onion and one teaspoon of minced thyme.  Wrap in heavy foil and roast.  Enjoy!
  • If you have been admiring the beautiful sunflowers in bloom and would like to plant some in your garden next year, choose a well-drained, moderately rich soil with a near-neutral pH and even moisture.  Avoid too much fertilizer and too much nitrogen which will give you large plants, however, it will delay and reduce the number of flowers.  Once they are established, sunflowers are drought tolerant and not bothered by pests nor disease.  They are, also, particularly beneficial to the honey bees.
  • A wonderful addition to the berry patch next season is a black, summer-producing raspberry.  An early harvest of large fruit on disease resistant plants can be found on ‘Bristol’ or ‘Jewel’.  Both are hardy in zones 4-8.
  • Beautiful magenta flowers open along the bare stems in early spring before the leaves appear on the redbud (Cercis spp.).  The very early bloom of this ornamental tree makes it an important source of spring pollen for many bees.  Thriving in sun or shade and growing up to 30’ tall, redbud is hardy in zones 4-9.

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