Start pruning certain shrubs and trees ( see chart under Pruning Tips, but don't prune anything that blooms in spring or you will cut off the bud which produces the flowers. Don't prune any conifers such as white pine or spruce until late May; and then only the new growth "candles".
Uncover roses (if you use rose cones or straw) in early March, weather permitting. But you can leave them mounded with dirt until the dirt has thawed.
Start seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the safe planting date, which for cold-sensitive annuals and vegetables in our area is usually mid-May. If you start growing seedlings indoors too soon, they'll get leggy and weak. Read the backs of seed packs to learn the schedule of the plants you're growing. Seeds shouldn't be started in soil of any kind; they require a special lightweight starting mixture. This mixture is available at Bloch’s Farm.
Begin cleaning your yard and gardens. Work only when the soil is dry. Working in wet soil will compact the soil, which is unhealthy for plants.
Cut back ornamental grasses.
TIP: To tell if the soil is dry enough to work, pick up a handful and squeeze it in your hand. If it crumbles it's dry enough to work. If you get a mud ball, stay away. If it's dry enough you can lightly rake away the sticks and compacted leaves.
TIP: Don't confuse raking with de-thatching, which is done with a special tool, and almost never needs to be done to a normal lawn.
April: Let it rain in April and May for me. And all the rest of the year for thee.
Houseplants, Perennials, and Annuals:
Remove rose cones when soil thaws, then gradually remove soil mound from around rose plants. Prune rose canes if not done last fall. When perennial beds can be worked add organic matter (like compost, peat and manure). Also spread balanced fertilizer and work into soil. We use Espoma Bio-Tone Plus or Espoma Garden-Tone.
Last week of April dig and divide fall-blooming perennials before vigorous tip growth. Apply pre-emergent herbicide like Preen (Treflan) or Corn Gluten Products (organic) to gardens that have been weeded. Do not add these products in vegetable gardens or any garden where you plan to plant seeds.
Vegetables and Herbs: Plant rhubarb and asparagus as soon as ground can be worked.
Plant cool-weather crops (lettuce, spinach, chard, parsnip, onion sets, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, mustard, turnips, radishes, horseradishes, peas, and parsley) when soil temperature reaches 40°F and night-air temperature is above 45°F. Plant early potatoes and artichokes if not planted in fall. Side-dress asparagus and rhubarb with a light application of well-rotted manure or compost.
Lawn, Trees, and Shrubs: Prune non-flowering shrubs. Plant trees and shrubs, and water them all summer long. Select deciduous plants that have not leafed out and evergreens that have not started growth. Cover with 2 inches of mulch to control erosion, moderate soil temperature, and reduce water loss. Remember to save information on your new tree or shrub. Begin annual pruning of all evergreens except pines and spruce. Fertilize ornamental shrubs. We like Espoma Bio-Tone Plus. Prune spring-flowering shrubs after flowers have faded. ( ex. Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Lilacs, Magnolias and Endless Summer Hydrangeas).
Fruits and Berries: Fertilize fruit trees as soon as possible after ground thaws but before blossoming. Plant and stake new fruit trees. Do not fertilizer during the first season. Mulch with several inches of straw or compost, and water throughout the summer. During the middle of the month remove mulch from strawberries when leaves start to grow. Leave mulch near beds for late frost protection of blossoms if necessary.
May: Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world. - Ralth Waldo Emerson
Houseplants, Perennials, and Annuals:
Water perennials if it rains less than 1 inch per week. Plant Easter lilies in the garden.
Inspect for iris borer larva on iris leaves and crush the larva. Divide and thin midsummer and fall-blooming perennials. ( ex. coneflowers and asters) Disbud several peony branches for bigger flowers, and stake them. Remove faded flowers from spring-flowering bulbs, cut off stalks, but leave leaves until they naturally die down. Stake delphiniums. Mulch around perennials and shrubs. Leave 2 to 3 inches around the base of the plant that is free of mulch.
Vegetables and Herbs: Take frequent garden walks to check for early signs of insect damage and weed, disease, and fertility problems. Use floating row covers to protect young transplants from frost damage. Plant broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage when air temperatures stay above 40°F. Plant snap beans, poles beans, sweet corn, and onion plants. Sweet corn planted early in the season has fewer pest problems. At the end of May plant celery, melons, squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and tomatoes.
Lawn, Trees, and Shrubs: Mulch young evergreens with aged bark chips to keep out weeds. Fertilize trees and shrubs with high-nitrogen fertilizer if not done earlier in season. Watch birch leaves for birch leaf miner infestation. Use sticky traps to monitor emergence of adults to help time spraying with a summer oil, Neem extract, or rotenone. Plant and transplant evergreens before new growth. Prune junipers, arborvitae, yews, and hemlock any time during late spring or early summer. Prune hedges, cutting shape narrower at top and wider at base. Prune pines by cutting up to two-thirds the length of the new growth (candles). Prune spring-flowering shrubs.
Fruits and Berries: Watch for fire blight on apples and pears. If found, cut branches 8 to 12 inches below sign of infection. Sterilize cutting instrument after each cut to prevent spreading infection. Pinch blossoms from newly planted strawberries to develop stronger plants for next year. If frost hits while fruit trees are in bloom, gently hose branches with fine spray mist before sunrise. Strawberries fruit will ripen 30 days after the bloom.
June: 'Tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes' – Wordsworth
Houseplants, Perennials, and Annuals:
Water flowerbeds during dry periods. Watch for insects and diseases. (ex. aphids, powdery mildew, and black spot). Remove spent flowers and weeds from gardens and add mulch. When night temperatures stay above 50°F, move houseplants out to shaded areas and water often. Progressively move plants to increased light areas. Cut back delphiniums after blooming.
Vegetables and Herbs: Before setting out tomato cages, disinfect them with a 10% bleach solution. Control fruit anthracnose and other disease problems by staking plants, maintaining optimal plant spacing, and using mulches. Tie up crops if needed. Plant peppers, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and late potatoes. Plant successive crops of beans, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, corn, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Control leaf blight on tomatoes by disposing of diseased foliage or plants or planting disease-resistant varieties and by mulching with straw. Thin vegetables to proper spacing. At the end of the month, stop harvesting asparagus. Weed asparagus bed carefully after harvesting to avoid damage to roots.
Lawn, Trees, and Shrubs: Prune evergreens. Prune spring-flowering shrubs that finished blooming by removing leggy and old branches at ground level.
Fruits and Berries: Apply sticky bands to fruit trees to catch insect pests that climb the trunks. Prune suckers from fruit trees. Continue applying fungicide on trees and small fruits. Leave sour cherries on trees as long as possible to fully develop fruit sugars. Pinch black and purple raspberry shoots.
July: Pinch back mums and asters.
August: Stop shearing shrubs by mid August so that new growth has enough time to harden off.
September: Apply lawn fertilizer. Plant cover crops after harvesting garden. Dig summer bulbs such as dahlias, gladiolus and callas. Store for winter in moist peat moss in a cool (above 35 degrees), dark area. After 3 fall frosts, fertilize perennial beds.
November: Cover roses and perennials for winter protection. Fence and wrap evergreens for deer and winter protection.
January and February: Winter in the Garden
Winter is a time for reflection and planning! It's time to pull out those notes you scribbled on seed packets last summer and find the photos you took of your property in full bloom. It's time to be critical and brutally honest about what worked and what went wrong. This will be easier to determine now as you have the experience of an entire growing season behind you and you can now actually see the “bare bones” of your garden. Hopefully you have remembered to leave some visual interest, like weather proof statuary for your viewing pleasure over the winter months. Now is the time to work on a garden design or contact our design professionals to help you with this process. Take the precious time to dream and visualize what you want your garden to look like and how you want it to function. Note: Fen shui principals work in the garden too. Did you remember to save those pine bows from your tree and holiday decorating as additional protection for your perennial beds? Also, be sure to shake or brush off that heavy snow that has fallen on your ornamental evergreens to avoid any permanent damage.
You've been looking at those catalogs long enough! We hope you saved some money for your garden this holiday season because it's time to mail in those seed orders. January is also the perfect time to start or continue that exercise program so you will be prepared for those spring gardening chores!