New England

March, 2005
Regional Report

Spray Horticultural Oil

Spray horticultural oil on fruit trees, such as apples, plums, and cherries, to smother any overwintering insects. Choose a calm day when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, and be sure to cover all sides of the branches. You can also apply it to evergreens to control spider mites and other insects. Carefully follow the instructions on the label for proper usage and appropriate plants.

Set Up Cold Frame

Cold frames are handy for hardening off seedlings. You can make a simple cold frame by placing hay bales along the perimeter of a rectangle, and placing old windows or a glass storm door over the top. Purchased cold frames are convenient, and some have thermostatically controlled tops that open automatically when the temperature inside hits a designated point. Since the midday sun can heat things up quickly, this feature is especially handy if you\'re away for long stretches during the day.

Keep Cyclamen Healthy

Cyclamen are beautiful houseplants that can flower for weeks indoors this time of year, but they are subject to some problems. Spider mites love them and may force you to spray plants with insecticidal soap. Luckily, cyclamen can be cut back to the soil line and they will resprout new shoots in no time. Also, overwatering causes root rot, which can spell death.

Get Rakes Ready

When the snow melts, it's time to begin raking the lawn to remove the winter debris of old leaves, sand, and branches. Raking with a lawn rake also removes old grass and helps aerate the soil, letting spring rains, and later fertilizer, penetrate to the roots for a healthier lawn.

Start Cole Crops

Cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, can be started over the next couple of weeks indoors under lights. These cool-loving crops will grow six weeks indoors before being transplanted outdoors two weeks before your last frost date. Keep seedlings moist and well fed to get the sturdiest transplants.

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