JANUARY

Can’t afford a trip to the tropics?!  We’re open all winter long and our greenhouses are warm and full of color!  A flowering houseplant or something from our Gift Shop will brighten up your day.

Your Entire Property

  • Birds like suet, fruit, nuts, and bread crumbs as well as bird seed.

Lawn

  • Avoid heavy traffic on your dormant lawn.  Dry grass is easily broken and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed.

Trees and Shrubs

  • When pruning large limbs, always undercut first.  Cut from the bottom up, one-third of the way through the limb, then finish by cutting from the top.  The undercut keeps the limb from splitting and breaking off, which could damage the trunk and become an entryway for insects and diseases.  Do not cut flush to the trunk, as the collar (the enlarged base of a branch) produces hormones that help heal wounds.
  • If you have miniature shrubs planted in containers they are probably fine left on their own all winter long, as well as they are receiving precipitation.  If they are on a porch or under an overhang, give them a drink once or twice a month throughout the winter.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • To prolong bloom, protect poinsettias from drafts and keep them moderately moist.
  • Check all house plants closely for insect infestations. Quarantine gift plants until you determine that they are not harboring any pests.  Remove insects by hand, wash with sink sprayer, or apply insecticidal soap or other product as necessary.
  • Turn and prune house plants regularly to keep them shapely. Pinch back new growth to promote bushy plants.
  • Do not place houseplants and holiday gift plants on top of the television.  This location is too warm and, in most homes, too far from windows to provide adequate light.
  • During the winter most houses are too dry for houseplants.  Humidity may be increased by placing plants on trays lines with pebbles and filled with water to within one half inch of the base of the pots.  If you heat with wood, keep a pot of water on the stove.  The added moisture will be healthier for you as well as your plants.
  • To clean crusty clay pots, add one cup each of white vinegar and household bleach to a gallon of warm water and soak the pots.  For heavily crusted pots, scrub with a steel wool pad after soaking for 12 hours.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Review your vegetable garden plans.  Think about what worked well last year and what you swore you would never try to grow again!  Do you need to till more soil to expand your garden?  Perhaps a smaller garden with fewer weeds and insects would give you more produce?  What sort of fencing and support structures do you need?

To Do in the Garden – February

Winter is a great time to take advantage of our Landscaping Design Services.  We offer several options, ranging from our free “Plant-A-Plan” service to professional design and installation.  We’ll help you decide which option is best for you, and we can start placing special orders so that you get exactly the plants you need for your dream landscape.

Your Entire Property

  • Plan a landscaping or gardening project on paper first.  Be sure you know the mature size of each plant and allow for growth and resist the urge to over plant.
  • Be especially careful when deciding on new trees or shrubs to plant around your home; remember to select varieties that will fit the location when they are at their mature height.  This will greatly reduce pruning and other maintenance in the future.
  • For easier lawn maintenance, eliminate the hard to mow spaces.  Eliminate acute angles in beds and borders.  Combine single trees or shrubs into a large planting connected with ground cover.  Put the bird bath in a flower bed or surround it with ground cover.
  • Put up bird and bat houses on your property to attract insect-eating friends and to add an additional layer of interest to your landscape.
  • Repair and paint window boxes and lawn furniture in preparation for outdoor gardening and recreational use.
  • Repair and sharpen tools.

Lawn

Trees and Shrubs

  • Cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea, and dogwood and bring them inside to force a bloom.  Make long, slanted cuts when collecting the branches and place the stems in a vase of water.  Branches can be heavy, so you might need a large vase with stones or marbles in the bottom.  Change the water every four days. Branches should bloom in about three weeks.
  • Late winter is the time to prune many deciduous trees.  Look over your plants now and remove dead, dying, or unsightly parts of the tree, sprouts growing at or near the base of the tree trunk, and crossed branches.
  • Fertilize fruit trees as soon as possible after the ground thaws but before blossoming.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • Check all five growing factors if your house plants are not growing well.  Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favorable to provide good growth.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Think Spring!  Plan your vegetable garden on a sheet of paper to utilize the space most efficiently.  Remember to rotate your vegetables to reduce insect and disease problems.  Think about timing for when to start seeds indoors, when and where you will buy transplants, and when you will direct sow seeds in the garden.
  • Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins.

 

To Do in the Garden – March

It may not feel like it, but spring is coming!  You might have to bundle up, but it will be nice to get outside and tackle some projects in your yard.  Whether it’s cleaning up from winter storms, pruning some of your trees and shrubs, or turning over your vegetable beds, there is plenty to do outside this month!

Your Entire Property

  • Remove protective burlap covers from shrubs.

Lawn

Trees and Shrubs

  • If you have storm damage, prune broken branches in trees and shrubs so they will heal properly.
  • Call a reputable tree care professional if you need assistance, especially with large trees.
  • Inspect hemlocks for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.  Woolly egg masses might be most apparent in March, but will be present at other times as well.  Look for them on underside of needles where they attach to the twig.  HWA control is somewhat complicated, but it is doable.  Depending on the extent of infestation, you might need to spray or apply a systemic control.  Please come in with questions and we would be happy to provide guidance.
  • Now is a great time to prune many ornamental trees.  The exception is trees such as birch and maple that have running sap; they will “bleed” if pruned now.  These should not be pruned until after their leaves are fully developed.  Late fall is another great time to prune these and other hardwood trees, as you can really see the shape of the tree once the leaves have fallen.
  • In March or April, before new growth starts and as needed to improve shape, prune non-flowering and late-summer flowering shrubs (including Spirea, Rose of Sharon, and PG Hydrangeas).
  • Do not prune blue or pink hydrangeas, as you will cut off this year’s flower buds.
  • Cut back buddleia and caryopteris to 18-24” from the ground, in a rounded shape to encourage an attractive mounded form for the plant as new growth comes in.
  • Prune hybrid tea roses, floribundas, and grandifloras, but wait until after flowering on climbers and ramblers.
  • For spring-blooming shrubs such as azaleas, rhododendrons, lilacs, quince, and forsythia, wait until they have finished blooming before you prune them (typically sometime in June or July).
  • If you’ve left your ornamental grasses up for winter interest, now’s the time to cut them back to the new emerging shoots.
  • Now is a good time to fertilize any trees or shrubs that you planted last fall.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Weed, rake, and edge beds before perennials start emerging.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

Houseplants and Tropicals

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Prepare your garden by pulling out any remaining plant matter from last year.
  • Turn over your beds and add compost and any other amendments you might need for good drainage and pH.  Compost and Organic Plant Magic help establish populations of beneficial microbes.
  • Don’t till your garden when the soil is wet.  It will form clods which are difficult to break up and interfere with cultivation during the summer.
  • Thin plantings of raspberries, blackberries, etc. to increase air circulation and reduce diseases.
  • Now is the ideal time to start seeds indoors to get a head start on spring.  Many cole crops and other cool-weather crops require about six weeks from planting seed indoors to transplanting seedlings outside, which works for transplanting in April or May.  Warm season crops such as tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, winter squash, and basil need about eight weeks before they can be transplanted outside in early June.
  • It’s traditional to plant peas (direct seed in the garden) on St. Patrick’s Day in the middle of March.

To Do in the Garden – April

In between April showers, take advantage of those sunny days and get outside into the garden!  Clean up your yard, add compost to beds, and lay down mulch now to control weeds.  The soil is thawed, but shrubs are still dormant, and it is a great time to transplant them.  Shrubs that will bloom in late summer can be pruned now if needed.  It’s also time to start working on your lawn.  This is a great time to start or rejuvenate a lawn.  Come see us for advice on lime, fertilizer, weed control, and seed.

 

Your Entire Property

  • Let the ground dry out a day or two after rain before working in your yard and gardens to avoid compressing the soil in the lawn and beds.
  • Remove all debris left from winter storms.
  • Apply mulch to all beds and around trees and shrubs.  Mulch helps to reduce weed seed germination, to control fluctuations in soil temperature, and to retain moisture in the soil later in the season.
  • Inspect trees, shrubs, grasses, perennials, and lawn for storm, snow, or pest damage.  Bring in photos and ask our experts for the best solution.
  • If needed, apply repellents for moles, voles, and deer.

Lawn

  • Rake up debris such as sticks, leaves, dead grass, etc.
  • Soil in New England tends to be acidic, and most lawns benefit from two applications of lime each year – once in the spring and once in the fall – to help neutralize the acidity.  Do a quick pH test first to be sure you need it.  Calcitic lime is recommended for lawns.  If you have a lot of dandelions, your soil is probably calcium-deficient.
  • Apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late winter/early spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – Spring Lawn Booster.  (Can be applied from February to April.)
  • Apply ¼ inch layer of compost to improve soil conditions.
  • Apply crabgrass preventer/pre-emergent while forsythia is in bloom.
  • Another good way to prevent weeds in your lawn is to overseed occasionally so that your turf grass crowds out weeds.  Now is a good time to overseed your entire lawn.
  • For new seeding, filling in bare areas, or overseeding, if you have used a crabgrass preventer, leave that in place on top of existing soil, put a buffer layer of soil or compost over that, and spread the grass seed on top of this buffer layer.  The crabgrass preventer will prohibit germination of the crabgrass seeds left over from last summer, and the buffer layer of soil/compost will allow the desired grass seed to germinate.  If you are unable to spread a buffer layer of soil, wait six weeks after applying pre-emergent before sowing grass seeds.
  • Alternatively, use a crabgrass preventer and new seeding lawn fertilizer that prevents crabgrass from germinating and allows you to apply grass seed on the same day.
  • With any method of seeding, keep the soil moist until grass is established.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Transplant trees and shrubs while they are still dormant.  Backfill hole with a mix of the soil you removed and some compost.  After planting or transplanting trees or shrubs, water every other day for about three weeks.  (If there is a lot of rain, you can water less frequently.)
  • Plant a tree for National Arbor Day (the last Friday in April).
  • Mulch around newly planted trees and shrubs to reduce weeds, control fluctuations in soil temperature, retain moisture, and prevent damage from lawn mowers.  It looks nice, too.
  • Make sure not to pile up mulch against the trunk of the tree/shrub, as this can encourage pests and diseases.
  • As buds open and your plants leaf out, check for insects.  Winter Moth caterpillar eggs hatch at the same time as when trees and shrubs first leaf out. Trees such as Cherry, peach, apple, crabapple, japanese maple, maple, birch and shrubs such as blueberry and rose bushes are susceptible.  This insect is tiny when it first hatches so you will not see it blending in with green foliage and often they hide inside the bud.  Click below for more info and treatment options.
    Winter Moth Caterpillar

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Cut back grasses and herbaceous perennials to the ground.
  • Cut back woody perennials including nepeta, perovskia, Montauk daisies, and agastache three to six inches above the ground.  Cut in a rounded shape to encourage an attractive mounded form for the plant as new growth comes in.
  • Cut back non-climbing rosebushes to 18-24 inches from the ground.  Climbing roses should not be cut back, but can be thinned out if necessary.
  • To rejuvenate, aggressively cut back woody portions of flowers like chrysanthemums.
  • Divide and transplant grasses and summer- and fall-blooming perennials, including daylilies, yarrow, echinacea, rudbeckia, asters, and sedum.  Avoid crowding when planting or transplanting.  Take into account the size of the plant at maturity, and allow enough room for air circulation between plants as they grow.
  • Divide and transplant hostas as soon as they start to emerge, before the leaves unfurl.
  • There is no way to transplant a plant without incurring some root damage.  To reduce stress on transplants, divide and transplant on overcast or rainy days.  Add compost to holes as you re-plant.  Apply three to four inches of mulch around the base of transplants and water well.  Check on the plant every few days; if the top few inches of soil are dry, water again.  Be careful not to overwater.
  • Cut flower stalks (not foliage) back to the ground on daffodils, hyacinths, and other spring flowering bulbs as the flowers fade so that the plant’s energy does not go into seed production. Do not cut the foliage until it dies naturally. The leaves are necessary to produce strong bulbs capable of flowering again next spring.
  • Add compost now to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Apply a weed preventer such as corn gluten meal which also serves as an organic fertilizer.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Add spring color to your entryway or beds with our huge selection of pansies, osteospermum, nemesia and other annuals that can withstand cooler temperatures.

Houseplants and Tropicals

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Direct seed cold season crops such as peas, lettuce and other greens, beets and other root crops, and kale and other cole crops in the garden.
  • It’s not too late to start seeds indoors (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, winter squash, basil, etc.).
  • Install a rain gauge in your garden so you can tell when to water.  The garden needs about one inch of rain per week from April to September.
  • Start checking your asparagus and rhubarb – they’ll be ready to pick soon.

 

To Do in the Garden – May

May is a great time to finish clean-up projects so that you are ready for the truly warm weather next month.  Many perennials and grasses can be divided and transplanted now.  If you’ve been growing vegetable plants from seeds, you’ll want to take advantage of warm days to harden off your seedlings.  Some crops can be direct-sowed this month.  Put out containers filled with annuals now for some much-needed color; keep an eye on temperatures and cover your containers or bring them into the garage on cold nights.

Your Entire Property

  • If you haven’t already done so, rake up and dispose of debris such as sticks, leaves, dead grass, etc.
  • When working in your yard, let the ground dry out a day or two after rain to avoid compressing the soil in the lawn and garden beds.

Lawn

  • It’s not too late to apply lime (do a quick pH test to be sure you need it).
  • If your lawn needs it, you can apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – All Season Lawn Food.  (Can be applied from April to June.)
  • If your lawn needs it, apply a weed killer to keep perennial weeds such as dandelions and clover under control.

Trees and Shrubs

  • ADD INFO ON BOXWOOD PSYLLID.  LINK TO CLEMSON AND MISSOURI.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Put up your supports for peonies now before they grow too large!
  • Spray your hostas, tulips, and other plants that deer love with deer repellant.
  • Top dress beds with compost to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Add compost as you plant new annuals and perennials.
  • Apply mulch right after you have weeded to deter new seeds from germinating.
  • Inspect rose bushes for sawfly larvae.  These insects look like small green caterpillars, and can be found primarily on the undersides of leaves.  Remove by hand or with a spray of water from your hose.  Neem oil, insecticidal soap, or Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew are organic insecticides that are effective against these pests while they are still small.  With all pesticides, whether organic or chemical, read instructions carefully and apply accordingly, taking special care to follow recommendations regarding timing of application to limit damage to your plants and to bees and other beneficial insects.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • We have mixed containers of summer annuals available for sale now.  You might need to cover these or bring them inside the garage for the night if the temperature is going to drop below 38 degrees.
  • After danger of frost (wait until Mother’s Day), plant tubers/corms of caladiums, cannas, dahlias, and gladiolus.  Set stakes when planting tall dahlias before backfilling.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • If you have houseplants or tropicals that you like to leave outside during the summer months, May is a good time to start acclimatizing them to life outdoors.  Like your vegetable seedlings, bring them outside for a couple of hours at a time on mild days in May to get them used to life outdoors before you bring them out for the summer.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Average last frost in the area is the end of April.  A chance of frost still exists until mid-May.  To be absolutely safe, don’t transplant seedlings of tender veggies into your garden until the beginning of June.
  • If you have seedlings that you started earlier in the spring, put them outside on sunny days to “harden off.”  Hardening off seedlings in mild outdoor weather strengthens their stems and conditions them gradually to direct sunlight.  Bring your seedlings outside on mild days four or five times for one or two hours so that they thrive once you plant them outside in late May or early June.
  • Direct seed now:  arugula, beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach.
  • Direct seed in late May:  beans, pumpkins, winter and summer squash.
  • Exhaustive lists of when to plant seeds or transplant seedlings are available online for additional crops.  Seed packages also include planting details.  Botanical Interests seed packets provide extensive information.
  •  It’s not too late to start seeds such as tomatoes, peppers, melons, squash, and basil indoors while we’re waiting for warmer temperatures.
  • Mulch between rows with four or five layers of newspaper covered with grass clippings, salt marsh hay, or straw to prevent it from blowing away.

To Do in the Garden – June

Summer is coming and June’s warm temperatures make it safe to plant anything and everything!  No more need to worry about cold temperatures at night!  From tender annuals to the vegetable seedlings you’ve been nurturing indoors, everything can go outside now.  Remember, it is advisable to harden off tender plants before planting them outside.  See details in May’s To Do List.  Once you’ve planted up, get ready for everything to take off quickly!  Keep on top of pests, diseases, and weeds before they become a problem.  It’s also time to cut back or prune spring flowering bulbs, perennials, and shrubs.

 

Your Entire Property

  • Walk around your property and inspect your lawns, beds, trees, and shrubs.  Look for problems that need to be addressed and changes you would like to make.  If you have questions, snap a few photos or put a sample of a branch or your lawn in a baggie and bring it in.  We’ll help you identify issues and recommend solutions if needed.
  • Check for slugs during rainy periods, especially in your veggie garden and in your beds where you have low growing, leafy plants, such as hostas.  Hand pick slugs or sprinkle iron phosphate bait.
  • Weed prevention and removal is important for a number of reasons. Weeds steal moisture and nutrients from your plants and they contribute to the spread of diseases and insects.  Pull weeds now before they go to seed.

 

Lawn

  • Make sure that the blades on your lawn mower are sharp.  Dull blades tear the grass rather than cutting it cleanly, which stresses the plant and makes it more vulnerable to disease.  Lawn mower blades should be sharpened after every 10 hours of use.
  • Do not mow the lawn when it is wet, as grass can be damaged.
  • Gradually raise the blades on your lawn mower so that by the end of the month you are leaving your grass at 3 to 3.5″ tall.  Lawns maintained at the correct height are less likely to have disease and weed infestation.  Taller grass provides its own shade, which keeps the soil cooler as we head into the hotter months.
  • Use a self-mulching mower without a bag.  Allow the grass clippings to stay on your lawn where they will decompose quickly and add their nutrients back into the soil.
  • If your lawn needs it, you can apply a slow release organic fertilizer for late spring such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – All Season Lawn Food.  (Can be applied from April to June.)
  • If needed, put down a second application of pre-emergent crabgrass preventer.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Look for holes in the leaves of crabapples, flowering and fruiting cherries, peaches, birches, maples, etc.  If you see damage, check more closely for caterpillars which can be hard to see.  Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew is an organic product that kills caterpillars and other insects that feast on your plants.  Its active ingredient is Spinosad, a very safe bacterial insecticide.  It does have some toxicity to bees so do not spray the tree when in full bloom or when bees are most active.  (Late evening is a good time to spray.)  Re-apply after it rains.
  • Prune spring-flowering trees and shrubs (dogwoods, azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurels, pieris, quince, spiraea, forsythia, lilacs, etc.).  It is best to prune these trees and shrubs right after they finish flowering, otherwise you will end up cutting off the buds for next year’s flowers.  Rejuvenate by completely removing older stems.
  • If you are not pruning, you can deadhead spent flowers to re-route energy into the leaves, stems, and roots for a more vigorous plant.
  • Apply a second dose of fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Organic Holly-Tone.

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Stake any plants that flopped last year.
  • Cut back dianthus, candytuft, rockcress, and other spring-flowering perennials strongly after they have finished flowering.
  • Apply another application of weed preventer such as corn gluten meal which also serves as an organic fertilizer.
  • Add compost as you plant new annuals and perennials to improve soil structure and revitalize soil biology by establishing beneficial microbial populations.
  • Apply mulch right after you have weeded to deter new seeds from germinating.  Mulch will also help retain water in the soil later in the season.
  • Apply a second application of fertilizer.  We recommend Espoma’s Organic Plant-Tone.
  • Cut off spent flowers before they go to seed.  This will allow the plant to direct its energy into its leaves, stems, and roots.
  • Apply slug bait if needed under the leaves of large-leaved plants such as hostas.
  • Watch for and control black spot and powdery mildew on rose foliage.  Water your roses with soaker hoses or drip irrigation to reduce the spread of disease.  Keep your roses and the ground around them clean.  Pick off spent flowers.  Cut back any unhealthy canes.  Apply organic Neem Oil as a pesticide and fungicide.
  • Remove foliage from spring bulbs after it turns yellow and begins to dry.  Daffodils and other bulb plants can be transplanted at this time.  Mark bulb plants with color-coded plastic golf tees if you are planning on reorganizing or adding to your garden in the fall and want to remember where your bulbs are.

 

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • It is safe to put out your summer annuals now.  We have a great selection of ready-made custom containers, or our creative staff would be happy to plant up your containers or window boxes with plants of your choosing.
  • Treat your flowering annuals to a “bloom booster” fertilizer every week to two weeks throughout the summer to encourage ongoing color.
  • Keep plants neat and encourage more flowers by deadheading throughout the summer.
  • Trim trailing plants in containers and hanging baskets to keep them full and healthy.

 

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • It is probably safe to bring your houseplants and tropicals outside for the summer.  You might want to keep them in a sheltered, slightly shady location for a few weeks until they get acclimatized to life outdoors.
  • For plants staying indoors, move them to a cooler room if necessary.

 

Vegetables and Fruits

  • We have a great selection of veggie and herb seedlings.  It’s safe to plant them all now.
  • Direct seed now:  beans, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, winter and summer squash, dill, and cilantro.
  • Transplant seedlings now:  Heat loving plants including tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, okra, squash, sweet marjoram, and basil.
  • Transplant seedlings now:  Late crops including beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, rutabagas, turnips, green onions, endive, radicchio, and celery.
  • Exhaustive lists of when to plant seeds or transplant seedlings are available online for additional crops.  Seed packages also include planting details.  Botanical Interests seed packets provide extensive information.
  • Try protecting your newly transplanted seedlings from cutworms, and slugs with collars.  Cut paper towel or toilet paper tubes into pieces and put them around your seedlings while they are still small enough to fit through.  Or, cut strips of cardboard two inches wide by eight inches long, staple them into circles and place them around the plants.  Press the collar about one inch into the soil.  These collars will fence out the cutworms and protect the stems of the vegetable plants.
  • Cut off onion and garlic flower stalks from the top of the plants to direct all of the plant’s energy into the developing bulb instead of seed production.  Garlic scapes are a wonderful addition to a stir-fry, or sauté them and eat them on their own.
  • The best time to harvest most herbs is just before they flower, when the leaves contain the maximum essential oils.
  • Water as needed.  A garden needs one inch of rain or water each week.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungus diseases.  Watering the soil rather than the plant also helps to reduce risk of disease.  Mulch plants to reduce water losses and improve yields.
  • Thin out seedlings and plants as needed.
  • If you haven’t done so yet, set up stakes and cages for tomatoes and other plants that will need them before they get too big.  As plants grow, regularly tuck the branches inside of the cage.
  • Test soil and apply garden lime if needed.
  • Identify insects before you attempt to control them.  Some might be beneficial carnivorous insects that you want to encourage in your garden.  Many organic products exist to help control insect pests.  Even with organic products, read the label carefully, and apply as directed.

To Do in the Garden – July

With July comes the first real heat of summer.  If you’ve done your major planting in June, this month is a great time to enjoy the beauty of your yard and gardens.  By the end of the month, many perennials are in full bloom.  Annuals are filling in and bursting out.  Vegetable gardens are beginning to fruit up.  On the other hand, if you’ve gotten a late start this year, there is still plenty of time to get plants into the ground or into your containers.  Maintenance activities include watering, weeding, and pest and disease control.  Some perennials may need to be cut back or staked for best performance.

Your Entire Property

  • Check your irrigation system for leaks.  Check schedules on timers.  Install rain sensors so that your system won’t turn on in the rain.
  • Eliminate all sources of stagnant water to control mosquitoes.
  • Continue attracting insect eating birds to the garden area by providing them with a fresh water source.  Use a pump to circulate water so that it is fresh for the birds and won’t provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Water as needed.  A garden needs one inch of rain or water each week.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungus diseases.  Watering the soil rather than the plant also helps to reduce risk of disease.  Mulch plants to reduce water losses and improve yields.

Lawn

  • Remember to sharpen your lawn mower blades after every 10 hours of use.  Do not mow the lawn when it is wet, as grass can be damaged.
  • Maintain your lawn at 3 to 3.5″ tall to reduce chances of disease and weed infestation.  Taller grass provides its own shade, which keeps the soil cooler as we head into the hotter months.
  • If your lawn needs it, transition to a summer fertilizer.  We recommend a slow release organic fertilizer such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – Summer Revitalizer.  (Can be applied from June to August.)
  • Check with your town about water ban regulations.
  • If you are allowed to water, remember that best practice is to water deeply once a week rather than several light waterings.  Early morning is the best time to water.  Evening watering is less desirable because plant leaves that remain wet through the night are more susceptible to fungal diseases.
  • Monitor lawn for grubs and treat as needed.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Continue to water any trees or shrubs you planted in the spring.  It takes a full growing season before roots are well established and the plant is able to sustain dry periods.  Some trees and shrubs, even well-established, will continue to need watering during particularly dry periods.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Go easy on fertilizer for most plants, as many are slowing down their growth rates during the heat of the summer.
  • Keep up with weeding before your beds are overwhelmed.  A few minutes a day is easier than spending an entire weekend weeding later in the month.  Apply more mulch as needed.
  • Rudbeckia, phlox, and monarda are susceptible to powdery mildew.  Serenade is an organic fungicide that works well as a preventive measure before the fungus develops in the hot weather.  If the mildew has already started, remove any affected leaves and spray the rest of the plant.  Spray on overcast days to avoid burning the leaves.
  • Shear back nepeta and salvia to encourage a second flowering.  Other perennials that might benefit from being cut back at this time include achillea, aquilegia, delphiniums, veronica, geraniums, and dianthus.  Some varieties of roses can be cut back now – cut back to the first set of five leaves.
  • Cut back late flowering perennials such as Montauk daisy, Autumn Joy sedum, and mums in early July to encourage dense growth and lots of flowers in the fall.
  • Stake tall flowers to prevent damage by wind.  Use stakes that are large enough to support the plant but are not too conspicuous.  Use soft twine or twist ties to secure.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Check the soil moisture of your containers daily.  With hot summer temperatures, especially if it is windy or the humidity is low, some plants may need water twice a day.  This is especially true of hanging baskets lined with moss or coco fiber.
  • If necessary, switch out one or two plants in your container to keep it looking fresh through the summer.

Houseplants and Tropicals

Vegetables and Fruits

  • We still have a great selection of veggie and herb seedlings.
  • Continue to make successive plantings of crops like beans, beets, corn, carrots, radishes, turnips, and lettuce, spinach, and other greens and leafy vegetables to provide a continuous harvest until fall.  A small garden will produce a large quantity of vegetables if replanting is done throughout the summer.
  • Transplant cool weather crops for a second harvest of beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, rutabagas, turnips, green onions, and celery.
  • A shuffle hoe is a great tool for keeping weeds under control between rows of veggies.  Use it regularly, before weeds get firmly established.  And, use carefully so as not to disturb the roots of your vegetable plants.
  • Now that your vegetable garden is well established, as with lawns, it is best to water it thoroughly once a week rather than giving it a light watering every day.  That way, a deeper root system develops, which helps the plants tolerate dry weather through the rest of the summer.  Water in the early morning, and water the soil, not the plants.  Mulch plants to retain water and prevent temperature fluctuations.  Salt marsh hay is an excellent mulch choice for vegetable gardens.
  • Squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons are susceptible to powdery mildew.  Serenade is an organic fungicide that works well as a preventive measure before the fungus develops in the hot weather.  If the mildew has already started, remove any affected leaves and spray the rest of the plant.  Spray on overcast days to avoid burning the leaves.
  • If needed, spray with Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew to control the beetles that arrive in earnest this month.

To Do in the Garden – August

August is a wonderful time to enjoy your yard.  Make the most of your pool or patio by introducing color with pots full of colorful annuals or tropicals.  Make sure your perennial beds have plants that will bloom through the late summer and into fall.  This is also a good time to think back and remember any spots in your garden that needed some extra color in the spring or early summer.  August is a good time to look for a bargain on past-bloom perennials that will spring into bloom again next year.  And, while you want to make sure to spend some time at the beach or out on the water, don’t delay that gardening project just because it’s the middle of the summer.  As long as you can water, it’s OK to plant.  And remember to continue watering anything you planted earlier in the season – new plantings need extra water for a full season until their root systems become fully developed.

Your Entire Property

  • Monitor for damage from animals, insects, and disease and treat as necessary.
  • Continue to watch for weeds, trying to stay ahead of them before they get big and/or go to seed.  Pulling them before the seeds drop will cut down on future weeding!
  • Specific problems can be diagnosed at Kennedy’s by bringing in samples or photos.  We are always happy to help you figure out how to most effectively treat any problems you encounter.

Lawn

  • As the days get shorter and the nights get cooler, the weeds start to slow down and lawns start to perk up.  September is a great time for lawn renovation projects.  Gear yourself up now so you can overseed or tackle problems next month.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Reduce the number of pests on your fruit trees next year by picking up and destroying all fallen fruit and diseased foliage.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Mark the location of spring bulbs or dormant perennials by sticking colorful plastic golf tees in the ground to help you plan any changes in your garden.
  • Cut off flower stalks when they have finished blooming.
  • RosePharm, Neem Oil, and Serenade are three organic options to prevent and control powdery mildew and black spot on your roses.  Remove all affected leaves first, discard, and then spray remaining leaves.
  • Clean up fallen rose and peony leaves that can harbor disease and insect pests over the winter if allowed to remain on the ground.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Continue to water and fertilize regularly.  Trim and deadhead to keep neat and to encourage new growth.
  • Make sure your petunias are getting what they need to keep them blooming all summer long.  Petunias love fertilizer, so don’t be afraid to fertilize them every two weeks with a water soluble fertilizer such as Neptune’s Harvest or Petunia Feed by Jack’s Classic.  Petunias are prone to infestation by aphids and thrips.  Both are small, hard to see insects that feed on the flowers.  Spray the plants with Eight insect spray and the plants will be flowering again before you know it!

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • Keep an eye out for spider mites and aphids on Hibiscus, Mandevilla, and other tropicals.  A treatment of All-Seasons Oil usually does the trick.  Spider mites thrive in the heat and hosing down the undersides of certain plants with cold water will discourage them from being a problem.  Avoid doing so on plants prone to fungal diseases.  Ask a Kennedy’s staff member for details.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • If you have late-fruiting blueberries, such as these Chandlers, now is a good time to cover with netting unless your intention is to provide a feast for the birds!
  • Mound soil over the lateral or brace roots of corn stalks for extra support against strong winds.
  • Cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins are prone to powdery mildew.  Remove leaves that are already affected and consider spraying with an organic fungicide such as Serenade.
  • Pick summer squash and zucchini every day or two to keep the plants producing.
  • Remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate a shelter for insects and disease organisms.  Use the space to plant a new crop for fall!
  • Many herbs self-sow if the flowers are not removed.  Harvest your herbs or at least cut back flower heads to prevent an army of volunteers next spring.
  • Eliminate weeds before they produce seeds.  Do not add weeds with mature seed heads to the compost pile.  Many weed seeds can remain viable and germinate next year when the compost is used, unless the compost pile reaches a high enough temperature (typically 150 degrees F for the duration of the composting period).

 

To Do in the Garden – September

Your Entire Property

  • Save wood ashes from your fireplace or firepit and add them to your compost.  They contain phosphorous, potassium, and calcium.

Lawn

  • If your lawn needs it, transition from a summer to fall fertilizer.  We recommend a slow release organic fertilizer such as Espoma’s Organic Lawn Food – Fall Winterizer.  (Can be applied from September to November.)
  • Fall is a good time to control certain perennial broadleaf weeds in the lawn, such as white clover, dandelions, and ground ivy.  Herbicides applied now are drawn into the plants roots as the plant prepares for winter.
  • Fall is a great time to plant lawn seed (when temperatures are around 75 degrees and falling).  Fescue germinates at soil temperatures of 50 – 65 degrees (daytime temperatures typically from 60 to 75 degrees).  Germination occurs in 10-14 days.
  • It can be helpful to aerate soil before spreading seed.
  • Once seed is spread, keep the soil moist until grass is established.
  • Check in with us here at Kennedy’s to establish the best schedule for fertilizing, (re-)seeding, and weed control.

 

Trees and Shrubs

  • Select accent plants for your landscape that will provide autumn color.  Trees that have red fall color are flowering dogwood, red maple, sugar maple, red oak, and scarlet oak.  Shrubs with red fall foliage include sumac, viburnum, and blueberry bushes.
  • Think about adding nut trees. They can accent the house, provide shade in the summer, and even become a food source.
  • Transplant early spring flowering trees and shrubs now.  If you wait until spring, you may sacrifice a season of blooming.  Wait until early spring before you fertilize fall transplants.
  • Water newly planted trees and shrubs to provide sufficient moisture and prevent winter damage. Add a three inch layer of bark mulch around the base of plants to retain soil moisture and regulate soil temperature.  Do not allow mulch to pile up around the base of the tree trunk.  Wait until early spring before you fertilize trees and shrubs planted in the fall.
  • Limit pruning to removing diseased, damaged, or broken stems and branches.  Late pruning may stimulate new growth that will not have enough time to harden off before winter.
  • Remove pesky seedlings of woody plants such as elm, oak, or maple.  If left too long they will take over gardens and other landscape plantings.
  • Rake up leaves, twigs, and fruit from crabapple and other fruiting trees and dispose of them in the trash to help control disease and overwintering insects.

 

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Divide and transplant (as needed) spring-flowering plants such as astilbe, peonies, phlox, bleeding heart, iris, and Oriental poppies after they bloom.  Do this as needed, typically every four to five years.  Prune back top growth as needed by up to one third.
  • Divide day lilies, usually every few years for best bloom.
  • Divide and transplant no later than early fall so the roots have time to get established before the cold weather arrives.  Plants that are transplanted too late in the fall might get heaved out of the ground with a hard frost.
  • There is no way to transplant a plant without incurring some root damage.  To reduce stress on transplants, divide and transplant on overcast or rainy days.  Apply three to four inches of mulch around the base of transplants and water well.  Check on the plant every few days; if the top few inches of soil are dry, water again.  Be careful not to overwater.
  • Make notes also of those late-blooming plants you want to divide in the spring and where you want to transplant them to.  These notes will come in handy next March!
  • Do not apply any more fertilizer; allow plants to finish the summer growth cycle in a normal manner.  Heavy applications of fertilizer or excessive pruning at this time will delay your plants’ dormancy process that has already begun in anticipation of winter.  New growth can be injured by an early freeze.
  • Plant daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, and tulip bulbs in late September or early October giving them time to establish roots before the soil freezes.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Switch out containers; plant them up with mums, cabbages, and other cold-tolerant flowering annuals and ornamental vegetables to last through Thanksgiving.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • Do not wait for frost warnings to move your prized plants indoors.  Temperatures of 45 degrees F or lower can damage many tropical house plants.  Bring tropicals and houseplants back inside when temperatures begin to drop.
  • Before bringing tropicals and houseplants back inside for the winter, wash off leaves with a hose.  Apply two applications of insecticide before bringing inside.  We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have concerning treatment options.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Plant a fall crop to get the most out of your garden.  Cool season crops include lettuce, spinach, arugula and other greens, and beets, carrots, potatoes and other root crops.  You could also try for a second crop of peas.
  • If you are done with your garden for the season, remove all spent plants to reduce breeding grounds for insects and disease.  Consider sowing a winter cover crop that will reduce erosion, fix nitrogen in the soil, and add organic matter and nutrients when you till it into the soil later.
  • Make a note of any particularly productive or unsatisfactory varieties of vegetables that you planted this year.  Such information can be very useful when planning next years’ garden.

To Do in the Garden – October

Your Entire Property

  • Fall is an excellent time for taking soil samples in your lawn and garden.  Soil tests will measure the pH of the soil, organic matter content, and the levels of some of the major elements required for plant growth, such as phosphorus and potassium.
  • Kennedy’s carries bulk organic compost – a great soil amendment for almost every soil type and every project.

Lawn

  • Apply second annual application of lime if needed to raise the pH level.
  • Gradually cut the lawn shorter and shorter this month to make leaf and debris removal easier.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Continue to water any trees or shrubs you planted this year until the ground freezes.
  • Late fall is a great time to prune hardwood trees, as you can really see the shape of the tree once the leaves have fallen.
  • Clean up your orchard and other fruiting trees.  Sanitation is essential for good maintenance.  Remove dried fruits or mummies from the trees.  Rake up and dispose of fruits and leaves on the ground.  Fruits and leaves harbor disease organisms and pest insects through the winter allowing them to attack next year’s crop.
  • Prune any remaining dead or diseased branches off your trees and shrubs.
  • If needed, treat Hemlocks with spray applications of horticultural oil during the fall or winter months.  We are happy to discuss treatment options with you.
  • Feed trees and shrubs to promote root growth.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • If you haven’t planted bulbs yet, October is still a great month to get them in the ground.
  • Dig up and bring in dahlias, cannas, and gladiolus.  Dry, clean, and store in a cool, dry location.
  • Fertilize perennials and bulbs with a fertilizer designed to promote root growth.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • It’s not too late to plant up your containers with mums, cabbages, and other cold-tolerant flowering annuals and ornamental vegetables that will last through Thanksgiving.
  • Kennedy’s has a great selection of pumpkins, squash, cornstalks, Indian corn, and bales of hay for your fall decorating projects.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • If you have not done so already, well before the first frost, bring in any houseplants or tropicals that you want to keep.  We recommend treating for insects before bringing them inside.  Please come see us with any questions you might have regarding treatment.
  • Christmas cacti need special care now to get beautiful flowers in December.  Buds will form at 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit or if the plant is exposed to at least 13 hours of complete darkness each night.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • As harvest season winds down and plants die back, remove annual plants and any debris from your garden, as plant material may harbor over-wintering stages of disease or insect pests.
  • Fall is a good time for improving your garden soil.  Add manure, compost, and leaves to increase the organic matter content.
  • We’re very fortunate to live by the sea!  Take a trip to the beach after a storm and gather some seaweed to use as mulch.  The seaweed will prevent weeds, reduce erosion during the winter, and add micro-nutrients to the soil as it decays.  In the spring, rake up the seaweed and add it to your compost pile.  Salt marsh hay is another great mulch that will keep cold-season weeds at bay.  Gather your own, or come and pick up a bale or two at Kennedy’s.
  • If you haven’t done so already, sow a winter cover crop that will reduce erosion, fix nitrogen in the soil, and add organic matter and nutrients when you till it into the soil later.

To Do in the Garden – November

 

Your Entire Property

  • Clean power tools of all plant material and dirt.  Replace worn spark plugs, oil all necessary parts, and sharpen blades.  Store all tools in their proper place indoors, never outdoors where they will rust over the winter.
  • Clean and fix all hand tools.  Repaint handles or identification marks that have faded over the summer.  Paint the handles of garden tools red or orange to preserve the wood and make the tools easier to locate next summer when you lay them down in the garden or on the lawn.  Sharpen all blades and remove any rust.  Store them in a dry storage area.
  • Set up your bird feeders and stock them with bird seed.  Remember to provide fresh water for them too.

Lawn

  • Remove leaves and debris from lawn to reduce growth of harmful fungi over the fall and winter.  Add them to compost pile or shred them and use for mulch.
  • Drain the fuel tank of the lawn mower or tiller before putting the machine away for the winter.

Trees and Shrubs

  • Inspect trees and shrubs for bagworm capsules.  Remove and destroy them to reduce next year’s pest population.
  • Depending on forecasted temperatures, spray rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens with Wilt-Stop or Wilt-Pruf to protect them through the winter.  These products coat the leaves so that they retain moisture during the cold, dry winter months.  Apply when temperature is between freezing and 40 degrees, and when temperatures are predicted to stay near freezing.
  • Wrap/Stake trees and shrubs.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • Cut down stems and foliage of herbaceous perennials after two or three hard frosts when leaves begin to brown.  Cut back Montauk Daisies to one inch above ground.
  • Clean all beds of leaves and debris.
  • After several hard frosts add mulch to your perennial flower garden.  A one inch layer of straw or chopped leaves will help conserve soil moisture and protect the root system from fluctuations in temperature.
  • After chrysanthemums have stopped blooming, cut stems back close to the ground and dispose of stems and all dropped leaves and branches.
  • Reduce peony botrytis blight and hollyhock rust by removing and disposing of all old stems this fall. This will reduce the carryover of the diseases during the winter and you will have less trouble next year.
  • Clean up rose beds again.  Be sure all diseased leaves are raked up and thrown out in trash.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Fill your frost-resistant containers with winter greens.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • African violets do well when potted in small pots.  A good general rule is to use a pot one third the diameter of the plant.  Encourage African violets to bloom by giving them plenty of light.  They can be in a south facing window during dark winter months.  They bloom beautifully under fluorescent lights.  In fact, they seem to prefer them.

Vegetables and Fruits

  • After the ground freezes, mulch small fruit plants such as strawberries.  One inch of straw or leaves is ideal for strawberries.  Small branches may be used to keep mulch in place.

To Do in the Garden – December

Tips below assume that we’ve already had freezing temperatures and hard frosts.  If the ground isn’t frozen yet, you can still plant bulbs or garlic cloves.  Or dig a hole so that you can put your Christmas tree up in the yard after the holiday as a shelter for the birds.

Your Entire Property

  • When using salt to melt ice on walks and driveways, spread it carefully to avoid damage to nearby shrubs.  Consider using sand or sawdust instead.

Lawn

  • Avoid heavy traffic on the dormant lawn.  Dry grass is easily broken and the crown of the plant may be severely damaged or killed.

Trees and Shrubs

  • After Christmas, move your live tree outside and redecorate it for the birds.  Anchor the tree in a bucket full of damp sand.  Put on strings of popcorn and cranberries.  Apples, oranges, leftover breads, and pine cones covered with peanut butter then dipped in birdseed can also be added.  For best results, push the edible ornaments well into the tree.
  • Remove snow from evergreens as soon as possible after a storm.  Use a broom in an upward, sweeping motion.  Serious damage may be caused by heavy snow or ice accumulating on the branches.

Perennial Beds, Bulb Plants, Roses, etc.

  • The branches that you trim from the bottom of your Christmas tree make great mulch to protect tender perennials from winter wind and the season’s freeze/thaw cycles.

Annuals – Containers and Beds

  • Move ceramic and stoneware garden containers, urns, and jars into the garage or basement to prevent damage during the cold winter season.  If containers are too large to move, cover them or turn them upside down during the winter so water will not collect and freeze in them causing breakage.

Houseplants and Tropicals

  • House plants with large leaves and smooth foliage such as philodendrons, dracaena, and rubber plants benefit if their leaves are washed occasionally with a damp cloth to remove dust.

 

Vegetables and Fruits