New England

June, 2013
Regional Report

Prune Spring-Blooming Clematis

Clematis vines that bloom once in the spring can be pruned right after they finish blooming. These include the small-flowered Clematis alpina and C. macropetala, both hardy to zone 4. These form compact vines that generally don't need a great deal of pruning, just a light trim to stimulate the new growth that will bear the flowers the following spring.

Raise Containers on Pot Feet

To allow for good drainage in your container plantings, raise the pots off the ground so water can seep out the drainage holes. This also will reduce the staining that can occur when pots sit directly on wooden steps or a deck. You can purchase pot feet from garden supply stores, or make your own using flat stones of similar size, rubber bumpers from the hardware store, or even old checkers from the game you never play anymore. Anything that will elevate the pot a bit should work.

Hill Potatoes

When your potato plants are about 6 inches tall, hill up soil around them, drawing up soil with a hoe to form a broad berm of soil around the plants. This encourages tubers to form and protects them from sunlight. Cover up most of the plant, leaving only the top leaves showing. Repeat the process again in about three weeks.

Watch for Aphids

Keep an eye out for aphids on your lettuce, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes. Knock aphids off plants with a strong stream of water. But don't be too quick to bring out the spray. Often the aphids' natural enemies will bring them under control without action on your part. If pest numbers are still high after 4-7 days, then use a spray of insecticidal soap to bring numbers down.

Keep Up with Mowing

Lawn grasses are growing vigorously at this time of the year. Mow frequently enough that you are not removing more than one-third the height of the grass blade at each cutting. And leave the clippings on the lawn -- they will return nutrients to the soil and do not contribute to thatch formation.

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