New England

June, 2005
Regional Report

Prune Shrubby Perennials

Cut back shrubby perennials, such as catmint and dianthus, when they finish with their first flush of bloom. This will tidy them up and encourage them to produce a second flush of flowers.

Prune Tomato Suckers

Indeterminate tomato plants, such as 'Better Boy', will produce many suckers. A sucker is a new shoot that starts where a branch connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers will decrease the number of fruits produced, but the remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen sooner.

Prevent Blossom-End Rot

Blossom end rot shows up as dark, sunken spots on the blossom, or non-stem, end of tomatoes, peppers, and squash. It's caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant -- the soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn't able to take up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit. To minimize the problem, keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don't over-fertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer), and avoid damaging plant roots while cultivating.

Fill in the Bare Spots

If you see empty spots in your gardens crying out for some color, consider sowing some fast-growing flower seeds, such as zinnias or nasturtiums.

Pinch Asters and Mums

To promote more blooms and shorter, fuller plants, pinch the tips of perennial fall asters and mums. For a rounded display of flowers, pinch the outside stems lower than the inside ones.

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