New England

May, 2004
Regional Report

Support Tomatoes

Set your tomato supports in place before plants get too large. Smaller determinate varieties can be supported with small cages, but larger indeterminate varieties need large cages or tall stakes. Secure cages with stakes so they don't topple.

Use Row Covers

Use row covers to protect seedbeds from marauding birds. Once the seedlings are 2 or 3 inches tall, it's probably safe to remove the covers. Or you can keep them in place for awhile to exclude pests and remove them once plants begin to flower so pollinators can do their jobs.

Transplant Ground Covers

Ground covers such as vinca, pachysandra, and ivy can be divided and transplanted now to create new beds or enlarge existing ones. On a cloudy, cool day, use a sharp shovel or trowel to separate offshoots from mother plants and transplant them into a shady new location. Keep them well watered.

Control Cucumber Beetles

Young cucumber, melon, and squash plants are easy prey for cucumber beetles. As the seedlings grow, these yellow-striped or spotted beetles emerge to feed on their foliage. The beetles also spread bacterial wilt disease. To control them in a small planting, suck them up with a portable vacuum cleaner or spray beneficial nematodes on the soil.

Thin Apples

Apple trees are notorious for setting more fruit than they can support. Usually the tree relieves this burden by dropping some young fruit in what's called the "June drop," but you may have to thin in addition to this natural drop. Try to leave 6 inches between fruits so they can develop to their full size and sweetness.

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