New England

October, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Garlic

Plant garlic now for harvesting next summer. Purchase garlic sold specifically for planting, or buy organic garlic. Commercial, nonorganic, supermarket garlic may have been treated to inhibit sprouting. Break the garlic head into individual cloves, keeping the largest ones for planting. (Use the small cloves for cooking.) Plant cloves about 3 inches apart with the pointy side up. Try some different varieties to see which you prefer. Mulch the bed well with straw.

Clean Out Irrigation Hoses

If you have drip irrigation tubes outside, blow the water out and bring them into a sheltered area. Any water left in them over the winter will freeze and possibly damage the tubes. Once you've finished with fall planting, drain garden hoses and bring them into a garage or shed.

Don't Prune Now

Avoid pruning woody plants now because 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.)

Test Your Soil

If you test your soil and add any needed amendments now, the soil will be ready for planting when you are in the spring. Some amendments take time to break down and become available to plants. If you have a nearby cooperative extension service office, you can take advantage of their low-priced soil testing service. If not, you can send a soil sample away to a soil lab, or get a do-it-yourself kit. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.5 to 6.8 (a pH of 7 is neutral). New England soils tend to be acidic and frequently require the addition of lime. But your soil can vary from location to location in your yard, so if you notice different characteristics of the soil in different beds, test them separately.

Plan Ahead to Move Shrubs

If you have a shrub or small tree you\'d like to relocate next spring, now\'s the time to prepare its root system. With a long-handled spade, dig a circle around the root ball, slicing through the roots. This will encourage new roots to develop inside the circle so the plant will have a more compact root system when you dig it up next year and will suffer less transplant shock.

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