New England

October, 2012
Regional Report

Remove and Destroy Bearded Iris Foliage

Iris borers, probably the most destructive pest of this flower, survive the winter as eggs in old iris foliage and plant debris at the base of the stalks. To reduce problems next spring, cut down and destroy all old leaves, stems, and any nearby plant debris after the first hard frost, when the female moths have stopped laying eggs. Put material in the trash or bury or burn it; don't add it to your compost pile.

Plant Garlic

Plant garlic for harvest next summer a week or two after the first killing frost up until about six weeks before the ground freezes. Separate a bulb into individual cloves just before planting, and place each clove with the pointed end up, 2-3 inches deep and 4-6 inches apart within the row. Once the ground begins to freeze in late fall, mulch the bed with straw, weed-free hay, or pine needles spread 4-6 inches deep. German Extra Hardy, Russian Red, Killarney Red and Montana Giant are hard neck varieties that do well in New England. Softneck varieties that are adapted to our region include New York White, Artichoke, and Silverskin.

Protect Young Trees

Young trees, especially fruit trees, are vulnerable to damage over the winter from voles and rabbits nibbling on their bark. Voles dine at the base of the tree; rabbits gnaw above the snow line. If these pests girdle a tree, meaning the bark is chewed around the entire circumference of the trunk, the tree will die. To protect from this damage, fashion a cylinder out of 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth to wrap around the lower trunk. Make sure it extends several inches into the ground to prevent tunneling under and is high enough to prevent feeding by rabbits sitting on top of the snow. Make cylinders large enough to accommodate about five year's worth tree growth and the increase in trunk diameter that will result.

Fertilize Lawn Soon

There is still a little time left if you haven't gotten around to fertilizing your lawn yet this fall. Put down no more than 1 pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet (the percentage of nitrogen is the first number in the fertilizer analysis) in an organic or slow-release formulation, and spread it no later than October 15 to provide the most benefit to the grass and reduce the likelihood of nutrient loss, which can cause pollution of the watershed. Unless a soil test shows a deficiency, use a fertilizer that doesn't contain phosphorous (the middle number in the analysis). This, too, will reduce watershed pollution and it will not affect the vigor of your lawn.

Grow American Bittersweet

Strands of bittersweet vine are beautiful and traditional fall decorations. But steer clear of the invasive Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus. Grow native American bittersweet (C. scandens) instead. Most bittersweet grows as separate male and female vines, so you need to plant at least one male vine for the female vine to produce the decorative red-orange fruits. Autumn Revolution (C. scandens 'Bailumn') is a new American bittersweet vine cultivar with perfect flowers, meaning that each of its flowers has both male and female parts. Therefore, you can grow just one vine and get berries. Autumn Revolution grows 15-25 feet tall and is hardy in Zones 3-8.

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