New England

September, 2008
Regional Report

Preparing Tools for Winter Storage

Clean the soil off shovels, spades, and trowels using a rag or wire brush, then wipe blades with an oiled cloth. Make sure pruners are free from dirt and plant debris, and wipe down the blades with the oiled cloth. Empty pots of dead plants and soil, adding the debris to the compost pile unless the plants were diseased. In that case, dispose of the plants in the garbage or a location far away from your garden. Rinse pots.

Bury Bean Vines

Legumes, such as beans and peas, have the ability to take nitrogen from the air and use it for their own benefit. Rather than pulling up the spent plants and adding them to the compost pile, why not keep that nitrogen where it's needed by chopping up the vines and tilling or digging them into the soil.

Plant Trees and Shrubs

The sales are on. There's still plenty of time to plant trees and shrubs, and the prices are right. Root growth will continue into late fall or early winter, and plants won't have the heat of spring or summer to dry them out. Be sure to water well at planting time and every week until they go dormant. If you don't have a spot ready for your new additions, submerge them in the vegetable garden -- pot and all.

Leave Seed Heads

Rudbeckia, sedums, ornamental grasses, and other perennials with long-lasting seedheads will feed the birds if you leave the plants standing. They are also beautiful under a light blanket of snow.

Sow Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds will germinate in early spring if you sow them now in bare soil. Rake the soil lightly and spread the seeds, tamp them down gently, and water. The rest is up to Mother Nature.

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