New England

October, 2008
Regional Report

Water Newly Planted Perennials

Plants that are still developing new root systems need ample water in the fall before they go dormant. Roots grow until the soil temperature gets down to the low 40s, so moisten the entire root zone once a week unless you have a soaking rain.

Clean Bird Feeders

Before winter bird feeding begins, clean your feeders with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Scrub with a brush and rinse thoroughly.

Don't Prune Now

Avoid pruning woody plants now; it will encourage a flush of new growth that may be damaged by upcoming cold temperatures. Instead, wait until late winter or early spring to prune most trees and shrubs. Exceptions to this rule are spring-blooming shrubs, such as lilacs and azaleas, which should be pruned after flowering.

Mulch Cold-Hardy Root Vegetables

If you have a proper root cellar or another method of storing root vegetables, go ahead and harvest them. If you don't, then wait to harvest. Instead, cover mature plantings of carrots, beets, and parsnips with a thick layer of straw. This will insulate the soil and slow its freezing, and you'll be able to harvest fresh produce into early winter by moving aside the straw and digging the roots.

Clean Up Under Fruit Trees

Dispose of rotting fruit on the ground and mummified fruit still on the trees to reduce disease. Rake up and dispose of fallen leaves beneath fruit trees.

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