New England

October, 2001
Regional Report

Harvest Brussels Sprouts


Now that the cool fall air is upon us, it's time to start harvesting brussels sprouts - before the sprouts split. Check along the stem of plants, and starting from the bottom of the stem, snap off the round "mini-cabbages" that have formed. To encourage more production, top off the plant so it sends more energy into forming sprouts and less into growing leaves.

Start New Gardens

Now is a great time to mark out new gardens you\'ll be planning for spring. Depending on your time and ambition, you can rent a sod stripper and remove the grass, then amend the soil with compost. If you don\'t have that much time, cover the area with black plastic, anchor it down with bricks and rocks, and leave it over winter. In spring the grass underneath the plastic will be dead, and you can till it into the soil along with some manure or compost.

Layer Bulbs


If you have only a small area for spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils, consider layering the planting. Plant the largest bulbs such as daffodils about 8 inches deep in the hole. Cover them with a layer of soil and plant the next largest diameter bulbs such as tulips on top. Cover them and finally top off the hole with the smallest bulbs, such as crocus. Cover the bed and wait until spring for a fine show of color from your little patch.

Cut Back Perennials

Some perennials provide food and cover for birds during fall, and some have attractive seed heads that you may want to leave in place until spring. If a plant doesn\'t have much to offer you or wildlife, this is a good time to cut it down. Cut it back to about 6 inches from the soil line and compost the tops. Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost over the beds for winter. To protect tender perennials from cold winds, consider mulching or laying pine boughs on the bed.

Clean Out Irrigation Pipes


If you have drip irrigation tubes or hoses outside, blow the water out of the tubes now and bring them into a sheltered area. Any water left in pipes over winter will freeze and possibly damage the tubes. Drain garden hoses and bring them into a garage or shed to protect them from damaging winter weather.

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