New England

March, 2001
Regional Report

Prune Damaged Branches

If snow and ice has left broken branches on trees and shrubs, prune these back now. Cut off a branch down to the raised portion at the bottom of the branch where it meets the main trunk. This is called the branch collar, and it helps the wound heal. Don\'t bother treating the wound with a healing paint, since a clean cut will enable the branch to heal itself.

Spray Fruit Trees

Pick a calm day with temperatures above 40 degrees F for 12 hours and spray dormant oil on fruit trees. This oil smothers overwintering insect eggs and insects such as scale. Spray until the solution drips off the branches.

Start Tomatoes

Start tomato and pepper seeds indoors now for transplanting into the garden in 6 to 8 weeks. Grow them under lights, keeping them well watered and lightly fertilized. Brush the tomatoes daily with your hand to promote short, stocky growth.

Dig Parsnips


Parsnips left in the soil to overwinter are ready for harvest. Dig them now while they're sweet. If you leave them too long in the garden in spring, they will start growing and the flavor will turn bitter. If the soil is still frozen, pour warm water around the roots to loosen them.

Remove Tent Caterpillar Eggs

Check the twigs of fruit and ornamental trees, such as crab apples, for signs of tent caterpillar egg masses. The masses are gray with webbing that encircles the twigs. Prune out any egg mass areas and destroy them to prevent the caterpillars from stripping your leaves later this spring.

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