Gardening tips from the Acton Garden Club

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Since the precipitation was above average, mushrooms and puffballs have been prolific. They help break down organic matter in the lawn. Have you had any experience with slime mold this season? Looks like scrambled eggs. It’s a mushroom. If you find any of these unsightly mushrooms, break them up with a rake. Do not use fungicides.

When nighttime temperatures drop in the 40s, move houseplants indoors. Watch the weather forecast for frost warnings. Cover tender plants with sheets or paper bags. Low areas are particularly vulnerable to frost. Bring houseplants indoors now.

Water houseplants less frequently and stop fertilizer as the plants slow down or stop growing for the winter. If plants are shedding a lot of leaves, move houseplants closer to windows with western and southern exposure. Additional artificial lights may be needed.

You can pot annuals with attractive foliage such as ornamental sweet potato vine and coleus to bring them indoors as winter houseplants. Trim them if they are too big. Take cuttings in the spring.

Rosemary can be dug up and potted now and brought inside. Put pebbles at the bottom of the pot for good drainage and keep the soil slightly moist. If the soil is allowed to dry indoors, it will die. Place it in a cool, sunny place.

Continue to plant your spring bulbs until early November. However, wait at least four to six weeks for the soil to freeze for proper root formation. Avoid planting tulips and crocuses as these are the favorite bulbs of our very large population of chipmunks and squirrels. Instead, plant daffodils, snowdrops and leucojum bulbs.

Extend the flowering period by “double decking”, that is to say by planting one layer of bulbs on top of another. First plant large bulbs, such as daffodils, hyacinths or alliums at a depth of 2 to 4 times the height of the bulb. Cover them with a layer of soil, then plant the smaller and earlier scilla or grape hyacinth bulbs. Some of these early bloomers can be planted on late-developing perennials.

Dig and store the tender flowers in the garden for winter storage. Dig gladiolus bulbs when the leaves start to turn yellow. Raise caladiums, geraniums, and tuberous begonias before a killing frost. Dig the roots of canna and dahlia after a heavy frost. Allow to air dry, then wrap in dry peat or vermiculite and store in a cool place.

If needed, the best time to apply lime is in the fall. The lime will have enough time to adjust the soil’s pH by next spring. In order to get the correct lime and plant nutrient recommendations, do a soil test. Information on soil testing is available at the UMass Soil and Plant Tissue Analysis Laboratory. Go to their website.

Apply limestone to the soil where clematis, lavender, delphiniums, baby’s breath, lilac and dianthus grow. These plants require a higher pH. Apply limestone at the rate of 5-10 pounds per 100 square feet every 2-3 years, unless you have other recommendations based on a soil test. When planting again, group plants that have similar lime needs.


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