New England

October, 2009
Regional Report

Plant Specialty Bulbs

Once you've got your tulips and daffodils in the ground, consider adding some of the smaller bulbs, too. Plant crocus, scilla, "species tulips," muscari, snowdrops, chionodoxa ("glory of the snow"), and dwarf iris for a dazzling carpet of color.

Edge Garden Beds

Take some time during this glorious fall weather to tidy up the edges of garden beds, and perphaps add a thin layer of fresh mulch. That way, come spring you can focus on planting.

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 prevent the ground from freezing, and you'll be able to harvest fresh produce into early winter by moving aside the straw and digging the roots.

Add Lime to Gardens and Lawns

It takes some time for powdered limestone to dissolve and begin its job of raising soil pH. Therefore, fall is a good time to add lime the gardens and lawn -- it will have several months to dissolve before planting season begins in the spring. Test soil first, and if the results indicate low pH spread lime with a lawn spreader, using the powdered or pelleted forms. If your soil needs magnesium as well as lime, use dolomitic limestone.

Hoard Leaves

Keep your eyes out for neighbors who are bagging up fallen leaves and offer to take them off their hands. Then add these to your own rakings, either in a compost pile or to use as mulch. Shredded leaves break down much more quickly than whole ones, so run your lawnmower over them a few times.

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