New England

June, 2010
Regional Report

Fertilize Your Leeks

Give your leeks a side-dressing with a complete organic granular fertilizer to keep these heavy feeders growing well. Sprinkle the fertilizer along the row a couple of inches out from the plants, then scratch it lightly into the soil. Use about a cup of 5-5-5 or a similar fertilizer for every 10 feet of row.

Harvest Early Cabbages Now- and Later

Get ready to begin harvesting your early cabbages. Although you can let them get larger, they are most tender when their heads are soft-ball sized. Try this trick to extend your harvest. After you cut the head from the stalk, cut a quarter-inch cross into the top of the stump. The plant will then produce up to four smaller heads that you can harvest when they are about 3 inches in diameter.

Cut Back Your Late Flowering Plants

Prune some of your perennial plants before the flowers come to control their height and lessen the need for staking, or to stagger or delay bloom times. This works best with perennials that flower in the late summer or fall. For example, fall-flowering asters, which often grow tall and rangy, can be cut back by about half in early summer when the plants are 12-16" tall. The plants will bloom just a little later in the season, but on shorter, sturdier plants. If you cut back the stems on the outer edges of the clump lower than those in the middle, the foliage on the lower stalks will help to hide the "bare knees" that asters often develop. If you cut back only some of the stems of in a clump, you can have a longer season of bloom as the pruned stems come into flower after the unpruned ones.

Thin Fruits on Trees

Don't worry if you notice small fruits dropping from your apple, pear or stone fruit trees. This is a natural process, called "June drop", when the trees shed weaker or damaged fruits. You may still need to do some additional thinning after this has occurred. When fruits are about an inch in diameter, thin apple and pears to 1-2 fruits per cluster, leaving 6-8" between clusters. Space apricots, cherries and plums 2-4" apart and peaches and nectarines 3-5" apart.

Start Fall Broccoli and Cabbage

Now is the time to start the seeds of broccoli and cabbage for a fall crop. Plant seeds in flats, then transplant to individual cell-paks when the seedlings are about an inch tall. Transplant to the garden in mid-July for a crop that will ripen in the cool weather of fall. 'Arcadia' and 'Marathon' are two good fall crop broccoli varieties; 'Storage #4' is a late green cabbage variety that stores well.

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