New England

September, 2005
Regional Report

Move Houseplants Indoors

Ready houseplants for winter by checking them for insects, trimming off dead foliage and stems, and repotting if necessary. Gradually move them into shadier conditions to get them used to less sunlight before bringing them inside when nights dip into the 40s.

Switch to Fall Lawn Care Regimen

If you've been leaving the grass clippings on the lawn, now's the time to start collecting them to remove the source of weed seeds. Spread a corn gluten-based product, which inhibits emergence of new weeds and gives the grass a dose of nitrogen at the same time.

Enrich Soil for Next Year's Veggie Garden

As you empty annual beds this fall, there are two main ways to enrich the soil for next year: spreading compost or planting cover crops. Before you spread compost, dig or lightly till in any plants that aren't diseased to return nutrients to the soil. Spread compost, even if it's not well decomposed yet. It will protect the soil over the winter and break down by spring planting time. Or you can plant cover crops, such as buckwheat or annual rye that will grow this fall and early spring until you till it under several weeks before planting.

Divide Iris and Daylilies

Lift iris clumps with a shovel and break them apart. Save the plumpest, firmest rhizomes, and discard the old, leafless ones. Trim the leaves to about 6 inches long. Let the rhizomes air dry overnight before planting. Daylily clumps are so dense you'll need to slice through them with a shovel or spade. Separate them into smaller clumps, leaving at least three plants per clump. Trim leaves to about 6 inches long and replant.

Don't Let Weeds Take Over

Ok, ok, so maybe the weeds have already taken over. Don't give up. Get them out of your garden or else they will make it doubly hard for you next spring. Since bare soil invites weeds, cover bare soil with mulch, such as layers of wet newspaper covered with straw, compost, or manure. This will control late fall and early spring weed growth and provide organic matter.

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