New England

September, 2003
Regional Report

Don't Let Weeds Take Over

Ok, ok, so maybe the weeds have already taken over. Don't give up. Get them out of your garden or else they will make it doubly hard for you next spring. Since bare soil invites weeds, plant a cover crop that you can till into the soil in early spring, or cover bare soil with mulch. Layers of wet newspaper covered with straw, compost, or manure will control late fall and early spring weed growth and provide organic matter.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

You\'ll find bargains galore at nurseries this time of year, and fall is a good time to plant deciduous plants because they don\'t have to put any energy into flowers or fruits and can devote their resources to developing healthy root systems. As long as the soil is around 40 degrees or above, roots will continue to grow. Wait until spring to plant evergreens.

Divide Iris and Daylilies

Lift iris clumps with a shovel and break them apart. Save the plumpest, firmest rhizomes, and discard the old, leafless ones. Trim the leaves to about 6 inches long. Let the rhizomes air dry overnight before planting. Daylily clumps are so dense you'll need to slice through them with a shovel or spade. Separate them into smaller clumps, leaving at least three plants per clump. Trim leaves to about 6 inches long and replant.

Divide/Plant Peonies

Dig overgrown peony clumps with a shovel and cut them in half. Handle with care so the "eyes" or buds at the base of the plants aren't damaged. Plant so the eyes are 1-1/2 to 2 inches below the soil surface. If planted too deeply, they won't flower.

Spread Compost

As you empty annual beds this fall, till in any plants that aren\'t diseased to return nutrients to the soil. Spread compost, even if it\'s not well decomposed yet. It will protect the soil over the winter and break down by spring planting time.

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