New England

October, 2013
Regional Report

Prepare New Garden Beds

Save your back by preparing new garden beds without stripping off the sod. Cut existing grass as short as possible, then spread a layer of compost several inches thick on top. Cover with a layer of newspapers 4-5 sheets thick, wetting the papers with a hose as you lay them down. Then top with a layer of mulch, chopped leaves or more compost. By next spring the sod will have decomposed beneath its blanket, adding organic matter to the soil and the bed will be ready for planting.

Wait to Protect Roses

Hybrid tea roses usually need some protection to come through our New England winters. But wait until around Thanksgiving to cover them. Putting on protection too early interferes with the the natural development of the plants' hardiness in response to decreasing daylengths and falling temperatures.

Plant Some Spinach Seeds

Are you eager for a super early crop of spinach next spring? Sow spinach seeds in late October and early November. The seeds will lie dormant in the soil until next spring, when they'll sprout as soon as the soil is warm enough with no effort on your part. You may get better germination some years than others, but it's worth the gamble for an early harvest.

Top-dress the Asparagus Bed

When the feathery fronds of asparagus have turned brown and withered, cut them down at soil level and destroy them to deprive asparagus beetles of overwintering sites. Then spread a 2 inch layer of compost or composted manure in the bed to enrich the soil.

Put Up Stakes for Winter Screening

The foliage of evergreens such as rhododendrons and dwarf Alberta spruce can be injured over the winter by the drying effects of wind and sun, especially if planted in a southern or western exposure. Give plants protection over the winter with burlap screens. Although you can wait until the really cold weather hits in late fall to put up the burlap, drive in the stakes to which you'll attach it now while the ground is still workable.

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