New England

July, 2007
Regional Report

Take Azalea Cuttings

To propagate your favorite azaleas, take 6-inch-long cuttings from new growth, strip off the lower leaves and remove any flower buds, dip the cuttings in rooting hormone, then stick the cuttings in moist seed-starting mix. Make sure the leaves don't touch the mix. Cover the pot with a plastic bag to hold in humidity, and set the pot in a cool, shady, protected location outside. When cuttings have rooted (in about eight weeks) remove the plastic covering by rolling it back a little more each day, and transplant the cuttings into a protected location or in a cold frame to overwinter. Be sure to mulch them well.

Protect Tomato Plants With Copper Wires

This may sound like an old wive's tale but for some reason copper wires seem to protect tomato plants against diseases. Cut 18-gauge copper wires into 2- to 3-inch pieces and insert a piece through each tomato stem near the base of the plant so it sticks out either side of the stem. Leave it in place for the season.

Cutting Roses

Cut the shortest stems possible when cutting rose flowers because the more foliage you leave on the plant, the better for photosynthesis, and the faster it will rebloom. Experts now recommend cutting above a 3-leaflet leaf instead of lower down the stem at a 5-leaflet leaf.

Thin Beets and Carrots

If you haven't thinned yet, it's time. Even if you've thinned once, take another look because these crops need space for their roots to fill out. If you have the space, sow seed for later crops, covering at least the carrot seed with fine-textured soil. Don't let the soil dry out.

Break Up Soil Crust

Thunderstorms bring heavy rain that beats down on garden soil and can cause a crust to form that reduces water penetration. Cultivate lightly to break up the crust before a watering. Mulch reduces this problem.

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