New England

May, 2003
Regional Report

Mulch Wisely


While you're spreading decorative mulch, check to see that the mulch isn't getting too deep, especially around trees. A 2- to 4-inch layer is plenty. More than that, and you might inhibit oxygen and water movement in the soil. If necessary, just remove some of the old mulch and compost it. Keep mulch several inches away from stems and trunks, to minimize disease problems.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables


Carefully work a small garden patch and sow carrots, spinach, peas, lettuce and beets, all of which grow best in the cool temperatures of spring. These plants can withstand light frosts; however, if an extreme freeze threatens, you'll want to cover them.

Plant Cool-Season Annual Flowers


If you are itching to get your container gardens planted, start with cool-season plants, such as pansies, violas, snapdragons, and dianthus. These will thive until the weather heats up, when you can replace them with heat-lovers such as verbena.

Succession Planting


Plant small sections of leaf lettuce every two weeks or so, rather than planting the whole bed at once. That way, you'll have tender, young leaves to harvest throughout the spring. As spring heads toward summer, choose non-bolting varieties.

Remember Foliage Plants


There are some exciting new, and not-so-new, annual foliage plants available. Varieties with dark foliage combine well with light-colored flowers, as well as bold reds and chartreuse. Those with silvery foliage look great with jewel-tone flowers. Plant fuzzy-leaved varieties where you can reach to caress them and enjoy their irresistible texture. Coleus foliage is so colorful it can stand on its own.

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