New England

August, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Cover Crops

As you remove spent plants from your garden beds, sow a cover crop such as winter rye. This will help reduce weed infestation, minimize erosion and compaction from fall rains, and will add nutrients and organic matter to the soil when it is tilled under next spring.

Prepare Annuals for Overwintering Indoors

Take cuttings of favorite geraniums, coleus, begonias, and any other annual flowers that you want to grow again next summer. You can also bring these plants indoors for the winter if you have a sunny spot. Several popular bedding plants are perennial in warm climates and can be brought indoors as houseplants if you don't wait until the weather gets too cool, which can set them back and make it hard for them to recover. Gradually move the plants into shadier locations so they are better adjusted to the reduced light levels when you move them indoors.

Harvest Onions

Begin harvesting onions when about half to three quarters of the leaves have died back. Gently dig or pull the onions and store them in a dry, shady place with good ventilation, such as an outdoor shed or barn, for 10 days to 2 weeks. After the onions have cured, put them in slatted crates or mesh bags and store them indoors in a basement with low humidity and temperatures between 33 and 45 degrees F.

Refreshing Dry Container Plantings

If you come home to a dried-out container planting, don't despair. Some plants will wilt dramatically, but come back once moistened. If the water you add from the top pours right through, place the entire container in a saucer or tray of water and let the water soak into the soil from below. If it's still hot and sunny out, place the plant in a shady, cool spot for a few days. Remove damaged foliage and see if it develops new growth.

Freeze Berries

Even if you can't eat them all right now, take advantage of the abundance of fresh fruits and berries. Freezer jams are surprisingly easy to make, and even regular canned jam is pretty straightforward and makes a great gift. At the very least, freeze some berries for later use. Simply spread them out on a cookie sheet and place them in the freezer; once they've frozen, pour them into freezer bags and seal.

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