New England

August, 2004
Regional Report

Fertilize Container Plants

During periods of frequent rainfall, nutrients are washed out of the soil of container plants. Give them a dose of liquid fertilizer to keep them producing flowers for the rest of the season.

Tend Strawberry Beds

Now's the time when strawberry beds can become a mass of baby plants. Control the runners, encouraging them to root where you want them. Keep the bed well mulched and watered.

Control Slugs and Snails

Aside from the squish method, there are several methods for reducing slug and snail damage. You can buy copper strips that repel slugs and wrap them around your containers or around your plants in the ground. Spread coffee grounds or diatomaceous earth on the soil around plants. Slug and snail traps are available that use various baits. Make a beer trap by sinking a shallow pan or saucer (a plastic butter tub is a good depth) about halfway into the ground and filling it with beer. It lures the slugs with the scent of malt and yeast. Cut a few 1-inch-square doors at the soil level and use the lid to deflect rain, thus preventing dilution. Adding a dash of baker\'s yeast makes a beer trap more effective. Avoid the impulse to empty the trap each day, as slugs are attracted by the dead bodies of their own kind. But the beer will lose its potency eventually, so refresh it every two or three days. An equally potent attractant can be concocted from 2 tablespoons of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of brewer\'s yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar mixed with 2 cups of warm water.

Divide Perennial Poppies

When Oriental poppies have died down, check around the clump for new seedlings. These can be transplanted to new locations if you give them a weed-free spot and keep them moist.

Patrol for Bugs

If you let even a week go by without picking off the insects, they can get the upper hand. Visit the garden in the morning before work or in the evening after dinner with your trusty can of soapy water.

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