Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

New England

March, 2011
Regional Report

Fertilize Woody Plants

Early spring before new growth begins is a good time to fertilize woody plants. Wait until soil temperatures have reached about 40 degrees, usually around late March to early April in southern and coastal New England; later in chillier sections. Fertilize plants that showed poor leaf color, growth, or flowering and fruiting last year.

Choose Strawberries

June-bearing strawberries fruit heavily once in early summer, as their name suggests. Good cultivars for our region include 'Earliglow', an early variety with excellent flavor; 'Allstar', a productive and disease-resistant, mid-season fruiter; late mid-season 'Jewel' with dark red berries and excellent flavor; 'Sparkle', a late variety with excellent fruit quality and good disease resistance; and 'Late Glow', a late bearer that is hardy and productive. Day-neutral strawberries, also called everbearing, set smaller crops of berries but continue to produce fruit from early summer to fall. Good cultivars for our region are 'Tribute' and 'Tristar', which are both productive, with good fruit quality and disease resistance.

Assess Winter Damage to Lawns

After the snow has melted, but before the grass has begun to green up, you may notice signs of winter damage to lawns. Snow mold forms circular gray or pinkish patches, especially in areas where the snow cover lasted longest. Large areas of straw-colored turf can be the result of winter drying injury; this usually happens in exposed areas with little snow cover. Dead patches of grass along roads, drives, and walks is often due to salt damage. Wait until the soil has dried up some before walking on the lawn to avoid compacting wet soil. Then gently rake away dead grass and flood salt-laden areas with water a few times to wash away salt. Once the nights stay above 35-40 degrees, reseed bare or thin areas of the lawn. Hold off on fertilizing until the grass is growing actively; wait until you've had to mow it a couple of times first.

Plant Spring Veggies

Depending on where you garden in our region, it may be time soon to plant the most cold-tolerant crops, including peas, radishes, lettuce, scallions, spinach, and turnips, all of which can go in the ground as soon as it can be worked in the spring. To check if your soil is ready, grab a handful and squeeze. If it sticks together in a tight ball, let it dry out more before you begin planting.

Plant Seeds of Mealycup Sage

Mealycup sage (Salvia farinacea) is a tender perennial that is grown as an annual in our region. To get the longest season of flowers, start seeds indoors 10-12 weeks before your last frost date. Salvia seeds are short-lived, so it's best to purchase fresh seed each season. Soak seeds overnight in tepid water before planting to speed germination. 'Victoria' is a popular cultivar with intensely violet-blue flowers; 'Evolution' is an All-America Selection with deep purple blossoms and improved branching and flowering; 'Victoria White' bears pure white flowers; 'Strata' produces unique deep blue and white, bi-color flowers.


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