New England

March, 2005
Regional Report

Prune Back Ornamental Grasses

If you left your ornamental grasses intact last fall, you can go ahead and prune them back to a height of about 6 inches. If you remove the old growth before new growth starts, you won't risk damaging new sprouts. Add prunings to the compost pile.

Rotate Crops in Veggie Garden

In planning your veggie garden layout, avoid planting members of the same plant family in the same spot they were in last year, or even the year before. Members of the same family are susceptible to the same diseases and insect infestations. For example, avoid planting members of the tomato family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant) in the same place year after year.

Prune Away Viburnum Leaf Beetle Eggs

If your viburnums had problems with viburnum leaf beetles last summer, now's the time to inspect your plants closely for egg-laying sites on the bark. Look for tiny, brownish black bumps on young twigs. These are the coverings over holes in which the eggs are laid. Prune these infested twigs as soon as possible because the eggs will be hatching soon and the young larvae will begin feeding on new foliage.

Remove Strawberry Mulch

Check strawberry plants twice a week for signs of new growth. As soon as you see sprouts, remove the hay or straw mulch and spread it in the rows to help control weeds. A topdressing of an inch or two of compost will give plants a boost.

Test Your Soil

It\'s a good idea to test your soil every few years to determine its nutrient status and pH (acidity/alkalinity). Your state cooperative extension service can provide a reasonably priced test, and along with the results you\'ll get recommendations for improving the soil. The proper soil pH is especially important for plant health.

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