New England

October, 2003
Regional Report

Mulch Cold-Hardy Root Vegetables

If you have a proper root cellar or another method of storing root vegetables, go ahead and harvest them. If you don't, then wait to harvest. Instead, cover mature plantings of carrots, beets, and parsnips with a thick layer of straw. This will insulate the soil and prevent the ground from freezing, and you'll be able to harvest fresh produce into early winter by moving aside the straw and digging the roots.

Keep Watering

Continue to water trees and shrubs -- especially any new plantings -- until the ground freezes. Although above-ground temperatures are cooling, the soil is still warm, and roots will continue to grow well into fall.

Don't Prune Now

Avoid pruning woody plants now; it will encourage a flush of new growth that may be damaged by the upcoming cold temperatures. Instead, wait until late winter or early spring to prune most trees and shrubs. Exceptions to this rule are spring-blooming shrubs, such as lilacs and azaleas, which should be pruned after flowering.

Clean Up Under Fruit Trees

Dispose of rotting fruit on the ground and mummified fruit still on the trees to reduce disease. Rake up and dispose of fall leaves beneath fruit trees.

Clean Bird Feeders

Before winter bird feeding begins, clean your feeders with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly.

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