New England

May, 2006
Regional Report

Plant Vines to Climb Trees and Shrubs

Vines such as clematis will grow through trees and shrubs if you give them the support they need to get started. Surround the lower portion of a tree with a cylinder of fencing to give the vine something to cling to until it reaches the branches. Or attach some twine to a lower branch and anchor it in the ground with a U-shaped stake. Most shrubs have branches low enough for a vine to grab onto.

Hold a Plant Swap

Everyone has extra annual seedlings and perennial divisions at this time of year, so why not share them? Get some coworkers or neighbors together and set aside a Saturday morning to exchange plants. As you prepare perennials, place each clump in a large nursery pot or a cardboard box lined with plastic. Transplant seedlings into 6-packs or small pots, and label everything. Do the transplanting a week or so before the sale so plants have time to revive.

Moving 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.

Spread Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds contain some major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) as well as some micronutrients, so put them to work in your garden. Allow them to dry and then spread them around the base of plants. Lettuce, especially, seems to benefit, and the grounds may benefit acid-loving plants since the grounds are slightly acidic. Coffee grounds also appear to have some negative effect on weed growth, and on slugs and snails. Some coffee shops give away bags of used grounds so you can stock up on this free organic matter.

Planting Dahlias

If you overwintered dahlias from last year in a large clump, use a sharp knife to divide them into pieces with at least two sprouts each. Dig holes 12 inches deep for the tall varieties, and about 8 inches deep for the shorter types. Lay one tuber at the bottom of each hole and cover with about 3 inches of soil. As the shoots grow, fill in around the stem with more soil until the hole is filled up.

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