New England

January, 2010
Regional Report

Clean Seed-Starting Trays

It's time to dust off the seed-starting equipment. Take inventory of trays, pots, and six-packs from past years and discard any that are cracked. Reduce risk of disease by soaking them in a solution of 10 percent bleach and water, then air dry.

Keeping Moth Orchids Flowering

When in flower, moth orchids (phalaenopsis) need consistent temperatures of above 60 degrees at night and above 70 during the day. In New England, a south window in winter is not too much light, whereas it would be too much in summer. Fertilize with a dilute liquid orchid fertilizer (high phosphorous, low nitrogen). Let the soil dry out somewhat between waterings but not get completely dry.

Check Old Seeds for Germination Rate

Do a germination test on stored seeds to see how viable they are. To do this, place 20 seeds between two sheets of moist paper towel and tuck into a loosely tied plastic bag. Place in a warm area, and check every few days. If germination is less than 80 percent, consider purchasing new seed of that crop.

Clean Pruning Tools

Before the main pruning season starts, take apart hand pruners and shears, sharpen the blades, oil the levers, and remove any rust. Pruning trees will go much faster and be easier on your hands when you use sharp, well-maintained equipment.

Propagate African Violets

African violets make great houseplants and will flower in winter if given supplemental light. To propagate new plants, take a leaf cutting, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder, and stick the cutting in a pot filled with vermiculite or sand. Cover the pot with a perforated clear plastic bag and keep the soil moist. In a few weeks you'll have new plants.

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