Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

New England

August, 2014
Regional Report

Plant Colchicums

Colchicums, also known as autumn crocuses or meadow saffron, unfurl their flowers in September and October. Plant the corms in late summer to early fall and look for their vase-shaped flowers on leafless stalks to light up the fall garden. The foliage will come next spring, when a clump of broad leaves will appear, then disappear by midsummer. Plant in full sun or part shade in very well-drained soil. Set the corms 3-4 inches deep. Colchicums are adapted to zones 4-9.

Pinch off Squash and Pumpkin Blossoms

Pinch off blossoms on your pumpkin and winter squash vines so that the plants direct their energy into sizing up the existing fruits on the vines. Also pick off any small fruits that won't won't have time to ripen before frost hits.

Pick Cantaloupes at their Ripest

Pick melons at the peak of their ripeness for the best flavor. Cantaloupes are ready when the rind under the netting changes from green to tan and the netting itself becomes more pronounced. The stem should start to "slip' or separate from the fruit if you lift the melon and pull gently on the stem. The melon will also have a nice aroma and the blossom end will have a little give when you press on it.

Fertilize Lawns

Right around Labor Day is a good time to give your lawn its main feeding of the year. For an established lawn, choose a fertilizer with at least 50% of its nitrogen in slow-release or water-insoluble form and without any phosphorus unless a soil test indicates a soil deficiency.

Sow Cover Crops as Garden Beds Empty

As summer crops finish bearing and space in beds begins to open up, sow a cover crop to help protect soil over the winter and add organic matter. Annual rye and oats are good choices that usually die over the winter in our region. The killed tops provide winter soil cover and the roots and tops add organic matter to the soil. You don't need to turn them under to kill them in the spring and wait for them to decompose before spring planting, as you do with hardier cover crops like winter rye that survive the winter.

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