New England

May, 2005
Regional Report

Harden Off Plants

Be sure to harden off indoor-grown seedlings before setting them into the garden. Skipping or rushing this process can result in chill damage to tender growth. Acclimate plants to outdoor conditions over the course of at least a week, and preferably two, by gradually increasing the amount of time you leave them outdoors.

Plan For Next Year's Bulb Display

Make a note of gaps in your spring bulb garden, and plan to plant bulbs there this fall. By choosing a variety of bulbs, from early-blooming snowdrops to late-blooming alliums, you can have a colorful show for months. Note the bloom times in plant descriptions. For example, Kaufmanniana tulips bloom early, while single, late tulips wrap up the spring show.

Plant Container Gardens

To get a head-start on the season, plant container gardens and keep them indoors until danger of frost has passed. To reduce watering, incorporate water-absorbing crystals into the potting mix when you plant. It's hard to add them afterwards. Since clay pots dry out faster than plastic, use plastic pots set inside clay pots to help hold in moisture. Grouping pots together also will help reduce moisture loss.

Watch for Tent Caterpillars

Check apple, cherry, and other fruit trees for nests of tent caterpillars. Blast low-lying nests with water to destroy them, or knock them to the ground and destroy them. A spray of Bt will kill emerging caterpillars but is not toxic to beneficial insects, birds, or humans.

Move Bulbs

If you want to move some spring-blooming bulbs to another spot, wait until the foliage has turned yellow, then carefully dig them up and let them dry in a shady spot for a few days. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place for the summer until it\'s time to plant them in fall.

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