New England

April, 2005
Regional Report

Grow Potatoes in Cylinders

If you don't have room to plant potatoes in the garden, try planting them in cylinders. Using chicken wire or wire mesh, fashion a cylinder that's about 3 feet tall and 3 feet in diameter and place it over a tilled bed. Place a layer of hay along the inside walls of the cage, then add a 2- to 3-inch layer of rich garden soil and plant four potato tubers. Cover the tubers with more soil. As they grow, continue lining the inner edge of the cage with hay and covering the young sprouts with soil until you reach the top of the cage. Keep the plants well watered and harvest when the vines naturally die back.

Watch for Lily Leaf Beetles

If you've had trouble with lily leaf beetles in years past, be on the lookout. Unfortunately for them, their bright red color makes them easy to spot, and they can be treated with a non-toxic, neem-based insecticide. Don't let them get the upper hand or they'll be difficult to eradicate.

Control Tent Caterpillars

Check apple, cherry, and other fruit trees for nests of tent caterpillars. They will emerge at the same time the leaves sprout. Blast nests with a strong spray of water to destroy them or spray Bt on them. Bt will harm only the caterpillars and not other beneficial insects, birds, or humans. You'll need a pump sprayer for this job.

Plant Snapdragons

Transplants of snapdragons can be planted outdoors once they are hardened off. They can tolerate below-freezing temperatures and flower best in cool weather. Plant them in groupings for the best show. You just can't have too many snapdragons!

Prune Roses

Cut back dead canes to healthy tissue and remove any spindly branches. Make a slanted cut that angles up toward an outward-facing bud, starting 1/4 inch above the bud. This directs the new canes to grow outward which improves air circulation in the middle of the plant to reduce risk of diseases like black spot.

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