New England

April, 2006
Regional Report

Wait to Fertilize Lawns

If you fertilize your lawn too soon, before the grass is actively growing, the weeds will benefit more than the grass. Wait until the entire lawn needs mowing, and then fertilize. For healthier grass, set the mower height at 2-1/2 to 3 inches. Longer grass blades also slow weed seed germination and growth.

Plant Cool-Season Veggies

When your soil is dry enough to work, sow peas and spinach and greens and transplant cole crops, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, into the garden. Set up the pea trellis before you plant so you don't disturb emerging seedlings in the process.

Prepare Asparagus Beds

Select a well-drained site in at least part sun; full sun is not necessary. Eliminate all weeds by repeated tilling, loosening the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches. Mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Prepare the bed by digging trenches 4 feet apart. The trenches should be 12 inches wide and 6 to 12 inches deep. Soak the crowns briefly in lukewarm water before planting. Draw a hoe along each side of the prepared trench to form a mound in the center running the length of the trench. Set the crowns 18 inches apart on the mounds in the trench, draping the roots over the sides. Cover the crowns with a mix of one part compost to three parts topsoil, burying the crowns 2 inches deep. Water the bed thoroughly. After about a month, once shoots have appeared, carefully add more soil to the trench.

Rejuvenate Houseplants

Houseplants should be perking up now that the sun is stronger and days are longer, so give them some fresh soil by repotting in the same size or larger pot. Resume fertilizing, and pinch back leggy growth on plants such as coleus and begonias. If you move any outside for the summer, slowly begin to acclimate them or the foliage will get scorched on the first sunny day they spend outdoors.

Support Peonies

To prevent floppy peonies, set up a support network. Surround a plant with stakes that you can encircle with twine once the stems get tall and heavy, or, better yet, use wire flower rings. These need to be placed around the plant while it's still small so the stems will grow up through the rings. The green color blends into the foliage so the rings all but disappear yet your peonies "magically" stay upright in heavy wind and rain.

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