New England

October, 2012
Regional Report

Plant Tulips

Now, as the soil cools, is a great time to get tulip bulbs in the ground. To keep the tulips blooming well for seasons to come, plant bulbs in well drained soil amended with a balanced fertilizer such as Bulb Booster. Plant bulbs 8 inches deep, measuring from the bottom of the bulb to the soil surface. Next spring let the foliage ripen completely before you cut it down after bloom. Keep the soil cool and on the dry side over the summer when bulbs are dormant, either with mulch or by planting annuals or perennials that tolerate dry soil nearby that will spread and shade the soil above the bulbs. Fertilize established tulip bulbs in the fall by scratching fertilizer into the soil surface above them. Even though there is no top growth then, their roots will be actively taking up nutrients.

Keep Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs Watered

Unless Mother Nature obliges with a soaking rain, keep watering any trees and shrubs that were newly planted this growing season up until the time the ground freezes. This especially important for evergreens. In fact, it's a good idea to give your established evergreens a good soaking in late fall so they go into the winter with a well-hydrated root system.

Finish Harvesting Cole Crops

Unless you are protecting them with covers or cold frames, harvest the last of your cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower before temperatures dip below the upper to mid-twenties. Hardy kale, collards and Brussels sprouts can be left in the open garden until temperatures reach into the low twenties.

Prepare Leeks for Winter Harvest

Before the ground freezes, surround your bed of leeks with bales of hay or straw. Fill in between the bales and around the plants with straw, weed-free hay, or shredded leaves, then add a heavyweight floating row cover over the top. You'll be able to go out into the winter months, pull back the protection, and dig fresh leeks for the kitchen. Leeks can also be washed, sliced, blanched for one minute and frozen.

Keep on Weeding

You'd think we'd get a break from weeding chores this late in the season, but no such luck! Winter annual weeds are sprouting and growing now. These are cold-tolerant weeds such as chickweed, henbit, and bittercress that germinate in the fall and winter, overwinter as a rosette of leaves, and are ready to send up flower stalks and set seed in early spring, Removing them now makes for one less chore during next spring's busy gardening season.

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