New England

April, 2009
Regional Report

Plant Bare-Root Roses

Prepare bare-root roses by pruning away any damaged roots, then soak the roots in water for several hours. Dig a hole 18 inches deep and wide, and create a mound of soil in the center. Place the roots in the hole, arranging them around the mound and adjusting the height so the graft is at or just below ground level. Fill in around the roots, firming soil gently, and water well. Mound mulch over the tops to protect the canes while the roots take hold.

Force Branches

Cut branches of forsythia, quince, pussy willow, and other early-flowering shrubs for forcing into early bloom. Bring the branches indoors and place in a vase of water. They should bloom in a few weeks. Once pussy willows reach their peak, remove them from the water and allow them to dry; they'll continue to look great in dried arrangements.

Plant Begonia Tubers

Plant begonia tubers in containers to get an early start. Plant them hollow-side-up in well-drained potting soil. Set them in a warm (70 degrees F) location and keep the soil moist but not soggy. Once you see growth -- usually in 3 or 4 weeks -- place the pots in bright, indirect light. Wait to plant outdoors until all danger of frost is past.

Prune Trees and Shrubs

Most trees and shrubs are best pruned in late winter, after the coldest weather has passed. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilacs and azaleas, which should be pruned immediately after flowering. You can remove dead or damaged branches at any time.

Build a Cold Frame

Create a simple cold frame by arranging hay bales in a rectangle and placing old windows over the top. The hay will provide insulation from cold outdoor air, and the window will allow plenty of light to reach plants. Use your cold frame to start early greens, and to harden off seedlings before planting. You'll need to prop the window open on warm, sunny days to keep the plants from overheating.

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