New England

June, 2005
Regional Report

Water Deeply

A frequent sprinkling from the hose is primarily beneficial for keeping seeds moist until germination. Most plants need deeper watering both to encourage new roots to grow deeper and to reach those deep roots of established plants. Watering often and lightly will just encourage roots to stay in the top couple of inches of soil where they will be very susceptible to drying out. It's difficult to provide enough water to reach deep into the soil while you are holding a hose. It's too tempting to move to the next plant too soon. Better to set up a sprinkler for, say, half an hour, and then dig to see how deeply the water penetrated. If it didn't reach the depth of the root ball, or at least 8 inches, set the sprinkler for another 15 minutes and check again. Different types of sprinklers will deliver different amounts of water. Better yet, use a soaker hose laid on the soil so no water is wasted.

Mulch Walkways

Reduce the weeds in walkways in your garden by covering the soil with some type of mulch. Some people like to use carpet scraps placed upside-down. Several sheets of moistened newspaper topped with hay or straw works very well, especially if you move your planting areas around a bit from year to year. Landscape fabric topped with wood chips or gravel is a good choice if the walkways are permanent. Try to avoid the habit of tilling to remove weeds because the process brings up weed seeds from deeper in the soil and exposes them to the light they need to grow.

Combat Grubs

Now's the time to use a biological control for grubs in the lawn and garden, either beneficial nematodes or milky spore. Beneficial nematodes are sprayed on the lawn with a hose-end sprayer and the microscopic nematodes multiply in the soil and kill the grubs. Milky spore powder contains a bacteria toxic to the grubs, and it's applied with a spreader. Beneficial nematodes are a better choice for cold regions.

Remove Moldy Strawberries

If you have a strawberry bed, harvest frequently and remove any berries that show signs of grey mold or rot diseases. These berries not only are inedible, they quickly spread the diseases to other ripening fruits. Pick and remove the rotten berries and mulch under plants with straw to reduce contact with the ground where the disease spores reside.

Boost Growth of Tomatoes and Peppers

There's evidence that fruiting of tomatoes and peppers is improved by applying Epsom salts, which contains sulfur and magnesium. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set. You can find it at drug and grocery stores.

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