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Seedlings in Pots


Horticultural Hints


Ready your vegetable garden for spring!  Repair any fence issues caused by winter damage. If you haven’t already done so, order seeds by phone or computer.  If they are sold out of what you want, they can offer alternatives. Lay out your vegetable beds on paper to save time when the soil is ready to plant. This month, you can plant your ‘cold weather’ crops, including spinach, peas and beets.

If your fence sags now, it will only get worse as the season progresses.  A zip tie across
Side-dress emerging bulbs with lime and fertilizer.JPG

Now’s the time to fertilize all your bulbs. A sprinkling of all-purpose organic fertilizer around bulb foliage now will help them build strength for the future. And, never cut down the foliage (or braid it) before it has yellowed, or you are prematurely removing the food source that builds next year’s flowers.

Is it still too cold to garden, or does bad weather have you stuck inside? Watch the videos offered by Grow Native Massachusetts.  Each year they bring in experts on a variety of environmental and horticultural topics. These lectures are available (free!) on their website. Learn in the comfort of your home.  And you can always order their books online if you are hungry for more.

Get a horticultural education at home through free web preserntations such as Grow Native
Invasives such as this Japanese barberry are easier to remove while the ground is soft in

While the ground is soft, April is a great time to pull out invasive plants such as Japanese barberry (shown here), and burning bush, and common weeds that may have re-seeded into your garden.  Make certain you get as much as the root as possible.  “Painting” cut roots with weed killer will prevent them from quickly growing back and making more work later in the growing season. Replace these with garden friendly American natives such as blueberries and itea -- spring bloomers with fabulous fall color that lasts longer than burning bush.

We are starting the 2023 gardening season in good shape. The UMASS Agricultural Extension Service reports excellent soil moisture at the end of March, and the Drought Monitor shows no area of New England in any stage of drought. Such conditions, though, can be fleeting: the National Weather Service’s 90-day outlook is for above average temperatures. 

NOAA seasonal temperature outlook.jpg
Apply horticultural oil now to suffocate emerging pests.jpg

Spray dormant oil now to control aphids and other insects on your trees and shrubs. Commercial dormant oil sprays have an emulsifier added to allow the oil to mix with water. Spraying trees and shrubs now, before buds break and leaves appear, will kill eggs and insects while not affecting foliage or harming birds or mammals.

Resist the temptation to apply mulch now.  Applied too early (and April is too early in Massachusetts), the mulch will slow down your garden by acting as a blanket, preventing warming and keeping the soil colder than the air. Later on, those 2 to 3 inches of mulch will keep down weeds and dress your garden.

Don't be in a hurry to put down mulch - wait until soil temperatures are at least 55 degre
Garlic mustard is easily pulled out of the ground by its roots in April_edited.jpg

Garlic mustard is a very invasive weed that easily out-competes native plants.  In early April, garlic mustard pulls easily – roots and all – out of the ground. Be sure to wear gloves because the sap from the plant can cause a painful, poison-ivy-type rash. Once garlic mustard flowers, each plant can produce thousands of seeds that remain viable in your soil for years.

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