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Northeast Gardening: Gardening Calendar

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Wondering what gardening tasks to do and when to do them? Northeast gardening expert Irene Virag shares her to-do list.

Northeast Regional Map

March

  • Test your soil’s pH. Most vegetables like slightly acidic soil in the 6.0 to 6.9 range.
  • Sow seeds of spinach, radishes, arugula, and lettuce outdoors.
  • Prune shrubs like glossy abelia and rose of Sharon that bloom on new wood.
  • Seed bare spots in the lawn if the soil isn’t muddy.

April

  • Brighten pots and bare spots with pansies, primroses, and ranuculus.
  • Start tomato seeds indoors. Peppers and eggplants, too.
  • Sharpen the lawn mower blade and start cutting when the grass is about 3 inches high. Don’t fertilize yet.
  • Direct sow carrots, beets, and kale. Try Redbor kale -- it’s edible and ornamental, too.
  • Plant peas.

May

  • Snip off faded daffodil flowers, but let the foliage stay to feed the bulb.
  • Grow your own salsa. Plant cilantro, chili peppers, and tomatillos, a tomato relative.
  • Sow sunflower seeds about one inch deep in a sunny place.
  • Loosen roots of annuals in cell packs before planting so they spread out and prosper.

June

  • Jazz up the koi pond with lotus and water lilies.
  • Think pesto -- add plenty of basil to the herb garden.
  • Plant dahlias. They need a little support, so try conical wire tomato cages.
  • Mulch the garden. It helps soil stay cool and hold moisture.
  • Create a rainbow with rows of gladiolus. Plant corms through mid-July.

July

  • Check tomato plants and roses for aphids. Blast them with a squirt of the hose.
  • Direct-sow broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower to harvest in the fall.
  • Pick zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers when they’re small and tender.
  • Toss spent pea vines in the compost. Turn and moisten the pile to keep it cooking.

August

  • Snip a little foliage off tomato plants to let the sunshine ripen fruit. Don’t overdo. Water deeply and evenly.
  • Pick beans and cucumbers every other day to keep plants producing.
  • Raise your mower to its highest setting to prevent turf from burning in hot weather.
  • Plant Colchicum -- also known as autumn crocus. They’ll be in bloom when it’s time to plant daffodils.

September

  • Sow a final crop of lettuce, spinach, and radishes.
  • Plant lilies. They’re true bulbs, but they like to settle in sooner than daffodils and tulips.
  • Bring houseplants inside. Check for insects and diseases. Cut back leggy plants and repot if necessary.
  • Transplant evergreens. And plant spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs, buddleias, and forsythia. Cooler temperatures encourage root growth. Mulch and water thoroughly.

October

  • Harvest pumpkins and winter squash before the first frost. Leave a length of stem to prevent rotting.
  • Get perennials in the ground so their roots spread out before the soil freezes.
  • Plant drifts of daffodils, tulips, and other spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Remove the central growing tips of Brussels sprouts so the uppermost sprouts develop. They’ll taste better once they’re nipped by frost.

November

  • Pot up paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis bulbs to force into bloom.
  • Prune weak wood from trees and shrubs to minimize damage from winter winds.
  • Cut asparagus foliage to soil level. Top dress beds with a few inches of aged manure to nurture next year’s crop.
  • Dig up and store dahlias once they’ve been blackened by frost. Label the tubers.

December

  • Spray rhododendrons and other broadleaf evergreens with antidessicant so leaves retain moisture – do so only if it’s at least 40 degrees outside.
  • Gather holly boughs and other evergreens to make truly green decorations.
  • Keep poinsettias in the red with 70-degree days and 60-degree nights. Avoid drafts and overwatering.
  • Place a floating deicer in your pond to keep water flowing and fish breathing.