New England

February, 2008
Regional Report

Join a Community Supported Agriculture Farm

If your vegetable garden needs a major overhaul, sometimes it's a good idea to devote the summer to the job and do it right by planting cover crops, incorporating organic matter, laying walkways, building raised beds, and making other fixes. You can still keep your family in fresh organic produce and at the same time support local farming by buying a summer share in a local community supported agriculture operation or CSA. Members typically receive weekly allotments of the harvest and some CSAs offer extras such as honey, bread, and cheese.

Sow Mesclun Greens

If you have a set of grow lights, you can grow mesclun or other quick-growing greens to add to early-spring salads. Fill a tray with moistened seed-starting mix and sow seeds thickly, then cover with 1/4 inch of soil and mist the surface. As soon as the first seeds germinate, keep the lights about 4 inches above the tray.

Replace Grow Light Bulbs

Whether you use warm-white and cool-white fluorescent tubes or special plant lights to start seedlings, they lose light intensity after a year or two and ideally should be replaced. If you feel it's hard to justify buying new lights that often, consider all the time and effort you're spending on starting plants. Without adequate light, your seedlings will grow spindly and will be less productive in the garden, and you won't get the most out of your efforts.

Keep Pinching Coleus

Coleus are growing more actively now and they can start to get leggy. They tolerate major cutting back and routine pinching to encourage bushy growth. If you cut back any stems by a few inches, stick the cuttings in water to root.

Check Stored Tender Bulbs

If you've stored dahlias and other tender bulbs in a cool spot for the winter, check on them now and then and remove any that are moldy or rotted. Also they may begin sprouting prematurely and then you'll need to pot them up and grow them indoors until spring. If you let the stems grow without being planted, the bulbs will soon die.

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