New England

August, 2010
Regional Report

Clean Up the Raspberry Bed

Raspberry canes are biennial, meaning they grow one year, flower and fruit the second, then die. Fall is the time to prune out the dead two-year-old canes that have finished fruiting. Dispose of them in a landfill or by burning to get rid of any potential overwintering pests and diseases. It's also a good time to thin out the remaining canes, removing weak ones and any closer than 6 inches apart.

Move or Divide Peonies

Fall is the time to divide or move peonies in your garden or plant bare-root plants from mail-order nurseries. Make sure the reddish buds on the rhizome are no more than 1 1/2 to 2 inches below the soil surface or your peony may produce leaves, but no flowers. Peonies resent disturbance and it may take two or three seasons for a newly moved or planted peony to begin blooming again.

Bolster Your Blueberries

Keep your blueberry bushes vigorous with fall applications of sulfur to enhance soil acidity and soybean meal to provide organic nitrogen. Now is also a good time to renew the layer of mulch around the plants. A 3 inch thick layer will conserve moisture and keep down weeds.

Take Cuttings of Tender Plants

Take cuttings of tender perennials such as coleus, sweet potato vine and geranium to have vigorous, young plants to adorn your windowsills this winter. Make cuttings about 4 inches long, remove the leaves at the lowest node (where the leaves attach to the stem) and then re-cut the stems about 1/2 inch below the node. Stick the cuttings individually into 2 1/2 inch pots of moist, free-draining potting medium and enclose the containers in a plastic bag with a few holes poked in for some ventilation. Keep the container in a bright spot out of direct sun and start checking for root growth after about a week. You'll know roots have formed if, when you tug gently on the cutting, you feel some resistance. Once roots have formed, take off the plastic bag. When they've grown a good root system, repot the baby plants into 4 inch pots.

Plant Grass Seed

Now is the best time to plant a new lawn from seed or fill in bare spots in an existing lawn. The new grass will grow vigorously in the cooler, wetter weather of fall and many competing annual weeds will be killed by fall frosts.

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