New England

May, 2003
Regional Report

Plant Bush AND Pole Beans

Bush beans mature earlier than pole beans, but have a relatively short harvest season. By planting both bush and pole types, you'll get the best of both –- an early crop from the bush beans, and a long harvest season from the pole beans. Create a sturdy tepee for the pole bean vines from tall bamboo stakes buried a foot or so in the ground.

Plant Frost-Sensitive Annuals, But Watch for Late Frosts

The last weekend in May is the traditional planting time for frost-sensitive annuals, such as verbena, zinnias, impatiens, begonias, and marigolds. Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast, however, and be prepared to cover plants if a late frost threatens. Drape a sheet, cover with newspapers or paper bags, or place an overturned bucket over plants –- anything to keep the frost from settling on them and to trap some of the soil's heat. Be sure to remove the covering as soon as it warms up in the morning.

Let Bulb Foliage Ripen

Allow the foliage from fading spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips to die back on its own, rather than pruning it off when it starts to look ragged. The plant needs the foliage to manufacture and store food in the bulb in preparation for next year's bloom. Removing green foliage weakens the plant. Once the foliage is yellow or brown you can trim it off.

Leave Clippings

Mow your lawn frequently so you\'re removing just an inch or two off the height, then leave the grass clippings right on the lawn. As the clippings decompose, they\'ll release nutrients back into the soil. Clippings don\'t cause thatch -– that\'s a different problem. If there are large clumps of clippings that threaten to smother the grass underneath, rake them out to scatter them or gather them up for the compost bin.

Harvest Frequently

You may know that removing spent blooms keeps annual flowers blooming longer. A similar concept holds true for fruiting crops. By harvesting peas, beans, and cucumbers frequently, you'll signal the plant to continue producing. However, if you allow one monster cucumber to fully mature, the plant will have fulfilled its destiny -– to produce mature seeds -– and will begin to die back. So harvest daily, freezing or giving away excess, rather than letting it remain on the plants.

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