New England

September, 2009
Regional Report

Begin Harvesting Winter Squash

You can harvest winter squash and pumpkins any time they're mature -- that is, when the rinds are too tough to puncture with a thumbnail. Some gardeners wait until a light frost kills back the vines, to allow the squash as much time as possible to mature. To harvest, use a knife to cut the stem an inch or two above the squash.

Move Peonies -- If You Must

Peonies resist transplanting, so if possible leave them where they are. However, if you need to move your plants, early fall is a good time. Planting depth is critical: Place the buds, or "eyes" on the roots just 2 inches below the soil surface. Any deeper, and the plants may fail to bloom. Even with proper planting, transplanted peonies may not bloom for a few years.

Pot Up Bulbs for Forcing

As you begin planting your spring-flowering bulbs outdoors, consider planting a few in pots to force for late-winter bloom. Closely space the bulbs in a shallow container filled with potting soil, then add more soil until most of the bulb is buried. The bulbs will need to be chilled, either in the refrigerator or in a protected spot outdoors, for several months.

Divide Iris and Daylilies

Lift iris clumps with a shovel and break them apart. Save the plumpest, firmest rhizomes, and discard the old, leafless ones. Trim the leaves to about 6 inches long. Let the rhizomes air dry overnight before planting. Daylily clumps are so dense you'll need to slice through them with a shovel or spade. Separate them into smaller clumps, leaving at least three plants per clump. Trim leaves to about 6 inches long and replant.

Move Houseplants Indoors

Ready houseplants for winter by checking them for insects, trimming off dead foliage and stems, and repotting if necessary. Gradually move them into shadier conditions to get them used to less sunlight before bringing them inside when nights dip into the 40s.

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