New England

May, 2003
Regional Report

Extend the Bulb Display

Make a note of gaps in your spring bulb garden, and plan to plant bulbs there this fall. By choosing a variety of bulbs, from early-blooming snowdrops to late-blooming alliums, you can have a colorful show for months. Note the bloom times in plant descriptions. For example, Kaufmanniana tulips bloom early, while single, late tulips wrap up the spring show.

Wait to Plant Warm-Season Crops

Although it might be tempting to set tomatoes and peppers in the garden now, it's best to wait until the weather and soil really warm up. A late cold snap can set plants back by weeks. Tradition says to plant warm-season crops on Memorial Day. If you can't wait, create mini-greenhouses with hoops and plastic, and be prepared to cover plants with a blanket at night.

Be Patient

Some perennials are up and growing strong now, while others may not have emerged yet. Before you give up on a plant, wait a few more weeks for signs of life. If you don't see any sprouts by the end of May, the plant probably didn't make it through the winter.

Set Up Trellises

While you're waiting to plant warm-season pole beans and cucumbers, set up trellises and tepees for these vining plants. Set posts deeply into the ground and make sure the structures are sturdy enough to hold a heavy crop on a windy day.

Harden Off Transplants

Be sure to harden off indoor-grown seedlings before setting them into the garden. Skipping or rushing this process can result in chill damage to tender growth. Acclimate plants to outdoor conditions over the course of at least a week, and preferably two, by gradually increasing the amount of time you leave them outdoors.

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