|This is the
comprehensive annual Gardening chores calendar for the northeast,
provided by The New Farmer's Almanac. Click your season above.
I call this a list of
"recommended" or "suggested" chores that might need
doing in almost all 4 Seasons for gardeners in the Northeast
Region. Because, honestly, i just don't do all of them. I don't
want my gardens to be daily labor-intensive torture tests.
The lists were provided by the The Old Farmer's Almanac. Some gardening
folklore included. My gardens are in zone 6b in Pennsylvania, considered the Northeast
Region on their map. Therefore, that is the list i'm using here. Look up your USDA Hardiness map for your region to get the garden chores
list for your zone.
What fascinates me, is that a lot of the
gardening chores, particularly in spring, are assuming that my soil
isn't still frozen and hard as a rock, or that i'll be out there pruning
when it's in the 30's. Well, who am I to judge. I take all chore lists
with a big grain of salt.
You must remember to consider the rest of
your garden, what's new or getting ready to bloom, and what chores might
be expendable or necessary in your designs.
These lists are long enough to scare away
a newbie, and even a seasoned or challenged gardener.
Bear in mind, that not all chores will
apply to you, and that you can make things a lot easier on yourself by
doing a few workarounds and coming up with hacks. I do that all the
time. Tailor the chores to absolute need and wish lists.
Know Thyself. Honestly, if anyone expects me to be out there pruning
trees or raking leaves in December in Pittburgh, they are quite mad. My
garden seems to survive without the stuff i won't do.
|Northeast Region - March
|Wow...Spring chores are definitely the
longest lists... I'm surprised if I'm done by Summer.
- Re-pot houseplants so
they will grow well during spring and summer.
- Plant deciduous trees and
shrubs as soon as the ground is workable.
- Prune fruit trees until
spring buds swell. Maple and birch should not be pruned until they
leaf out. Choose a day above freezing if possible, as it is easier
on you as well as on the tree.
- Dormant spraying for
fruit trees should be done before spring growth begins. Choose a
calm day when temperatures are above 40 degrees F, and be sure to
cover all sides of the branches.
- Resist the temptation to
uncover spring-flowering plants such as daffodils and tulips. Mulch
may be loosened, but the shoots will still benefit from protection
against cold, drying winds.
- Be sure that flats and
pots used for starting seed are perfectly clean. You can sterilize
with a solution of 10 percent bleach and 90 percent water.
- Water newly started
seedlings carefully. A pitcher may let the water out too forcefully.
A mist sprayer is gentle but can take a long time. Try using a meat
basting syringe, which will dispense the water effectively without
causing too much soil disruption.
- Sow peas outdoors, even
if it's snowy! The earlier they mature, the sweeter they'll be. Sow
them as soon as the soil can be worked, but save some for a later
planting as well. Choose a location that gets maximum sun.
- Spread dark plastic
intended for mulch out over the garden site to hasten the warming of
the soil. This will provide for earlier and better germination.
- Keep plastic milk jugs or
other coverings on hand to protect the flowers of pansies, crocuses,
and other early bloomers against the return of severe weather.
- Start seedlings of
annuals in flats -- aster, larkspur, alyssum, snapdragons, and
petunias should be started now (or 6 to 8 weeks before the last
frost date in your area). If summer season is short, zinnias should
be started now. They will need to be potted up in individual pots
after 4 to 5 weeks.
- Start some vegetables in
flats inside under lights: Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage,
cauliflower, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and lettuce are good
choices. Use moistened seed-starting mix. Fertilize when two sets of
leaves have grown.
- A peck of March dust and
a shower in May, Makes the corn green and the fields gay.
- Start seeds of some herbs
in flats indoors, such as basil, parsley, sage, and thyme. Once the
seeds germinate, place the plants under grow lights for 14 hours a
day (timers make this easy) and keep soil moist.
- Knowing when to start
seeds in time for outdoor planting can be confusing. See packet
instructions and also consult our Best Dates to Seed chart at
- Ideally, seeds need 70 to
75 degrees F temperatures to germinate, and 60 to 65 degrees F
temperatures to grow.
- Plant seeds in a
soil-less growing mix. Soil can cause disease.
- Prune evergreen and
summer-flowering trees and shrubs. Prune spring-flowering shrubs
only after they finish blooming.
- Remove any leaves and
debris from your lawn.
- Remove suckers from
- If you have roses, slowly
unwrap and remove protective mulch to awaken them.
|Northeast Region - April
- Rake or remove mulches
from all flower beds.
- Plant rosebushes. They
often do best if planted before growth starts and buds swell. And if
you want to increase their fragrance, surround them with parsley.
- Broadcast lime, wood
ashes, or a mixture of the two over alkaline-loving perennials such
as delphiniums and dianthus. Bring color outdoors to patios,
porches, and even the garden with pansy plants, which don't mind
cold nights. To encourage constant flowering, routinely remove spent
blossoms and keep them from getting bone-dry.
lilies-of-the-valley, violets, and garden lilies. Divide summer- and
fall-blooming perennials, including delphiniums, irises,
chrysanthemums, daisies, and phlox.
- Although we think of this
as a rainy month, it can fool us. Remember to water your plants more
frequently as the weather warms up and the days lengthen.
- When danger of frost has
passed, uncover strawberry beds and keep them well watered.
- Plant blackberries,
raspberries, strawberries, and fruit trees.
- Start seeds indoors for
heat-loving crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, and squash.
- To determine whether your
garden soil is ready for seeds, grab a good handful of it. If you
can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet. If it crumbles through
your fingers and reminds you of chocolate cake, it's ready for
- If you got your peas in
last month, be sure to give them a good fence for support, made of
chicken wire, twine, or stubby branches that are at least three feet
tall. Otherwise, plant them this month as soon as you can.
- Feed your trees. As soon
as the frost goes out of the ground, give them a well-balanced
slow-release fertilizer. Scatter about six good handfuls per each
10x10-foot area. Store leftover fertilizer in a small plastic trash
can or a covered plastic container, and label it.
- Rake your lawn to remove
all leaves, dead grass, and small twigs. Sow seed for a new lawn, or
fill in bare patches by first covering the area with compost or
other organic matter. Roll the lawn if the ground isn't soggy.
- Don't fertilize
strawberries in the spring. This is when the leaves are developing,
and you'll get lush growth and meager, soft berries. Wait until
blossoms appear and use a light hand.
- Don't set tomato plants
out in the garden too soon. They hate cold soil and cold nights
(under 55 degrees F).
- When preparing to
transplant seedlings, it is important to harden them off. Water the
seedlings less for a week prior to planting. Set the seedlings
outside in a wind-protected place when temperatures are above 50
- Have you considered
raised beds? They're a great way to get your garden started faster
in the spring. See Almanac.com for articles on how to build a raised
- Avoid planting seedlings
until you've passed the last frost date for your area. See our Best
Dates for Planting Seeds.
- Have you tested your soil
to see if it's nutrient rich and will allow plants to thrive?
Contact your state's cooperative extension service for free or
low-cost soil tests.
- Once the garden soil is
workable, give it a good stirring and let it sit for several days.
Then top-dress it with compost or well-rotted manure.
- Plant cool-season
vegetables outside, such as beets, peas, lettuce, collards, turnips,
carrots, broccoli (transplants), brussels sprouts, Swiss chard,
kale, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, and spinach.
See our Best Dates to Plant chart on Almanac.com/Gardening.
- Cover tender plants if
late frost is in the forecast.
- Plants started indoors
should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.
- Plant perennials and
shrubs early in the season to make sure they are established by
summer. Divide perennials that are overcrowded.
- For overwintered
geraniums, cut back 4 to 6 inches and remove the bottom leaves.
- Fertilize your trees with
a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer.
- If scale or aphids have
been a problem on trees and shrubs, spray the branches with dormant
oil when temperatures are above 40 degrees.
- If you have dead spots in
the lawn, plan to patch them before the summer heat. Loosen the soil
and work in some good-quality compost, sprinkle grass seed, rake
lightly, and tamp to assure good seed-to-soil contact. Mulch with a
thin layer of straw. Water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist
until the grass sprouts.
- If you left your
ornamental grasses intact last fall, you can go ahead and prune them
back to a height of about 6 to 12 inches now, higher for larger
- Time to fertilize lawns,
roses, raspberries, and woody plants.
- Do you have animal pests?
Be sure you put the proper fencing in place before you start the
garden. See Almanac.com/Gardening for our pest pages.
- Apply horticultural oil
to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year. Spray when
temperatures are over 40 degrees F.
- Check your apple trees.
If new shots seem blacked, you may have blight disease. Prune
infected areas several inches below the damage. Dip your pruners in
a weak bleach solution between pruning cuts to avoid spreading the
disease to other trees.
- Remember to provide
adequate soil moisture for your fruit trees during April and May for
good fruit size.
- Once ground thaws, divide
any crowded rhubarb stalks. Dig up the whole crown; break off the
young side shoots and plant in a full sun location.
- Plant bare-root asparagus
crowns as soon as the ground thaws. Choose a sunny spot!
- Inspect trees and shrubs
for broken limbs and prune damaged branches back to unaffected wood.
Cut branches back to a branch or bud that's facing outward.
- Begin fertilizing
|Northeast Region - May
- Divide late-summer or
autumn-flowering perennials. If necessary, go after phlox and
artemisia with a sharp spade or even an ax. If delphiniums need to
be divided, remove and replant the new little plants growing around
the outside of the clump. Discard the hard old heart.
- Trim climbing roses and
attach securely to fences or trellises.
- Scatter crushed eggshells
in a thick ring around roses to deter slugs.
- Melons often benefit from
supplemental warming, such as that provided by growing under
plastic. Wait until the transplanted seedlings are established, as
they cannot take up moisture very well at first and can easily get
- Mulch between rows and
keep the garden weeded to give emerging seedlings a fair chance.
- Get that herb garden
started by putting in plants. If you include mint, plant it in a
large plastic tub (the kind drywall joint compound or birdseed comes
in) with its bottom removed. This will help keep it from invading
the rest of the garden.
- An established asparagus
bed will be ready to harvest. Patrol daily and select spears of
about the same size (which will require the same cooking time). If
you had trouble locating those first spears, mark the bed with
stakes so that you can find them next year.
- Watch for signs of
drought in plants transplanted from containers. Apply water (not
much, but often) close to each plant's stem, where it will percolate
down to the root ball. The larger the plant, the longer the recovery
period, and the more diligently you need to water. Poke a pointed
metal rod into the soil above the root ball. If the rod doesn't
penetrate easily, the soil is too dry. If it moves around and feels
squishy, the soil is too wet.
- Moles generally come
calling this month. They're searching for mates and also grubs in
your lawn. To get rid of the grubs, apply milky spore disease
(Bacillus popilliae or Bacillis lentimorbus), a dust you can buy at
your local garden center. Or try a new product called Mole-Med,
which has castor oil as its active ingredient. Moles don't like the
taste of this any more than you do. See Almanac.com/Gardening for
more tips on pest control.
- Don't be in a rush to
plant tomato, eggplant, pepper, okra, and other heat-loving
seedlings if you live where late-May frosts are common.
- Don't cut the leaves off
spent spring-flowering bulbs. Dying and yellowing foliage may look
unsightly, but leave it in place (and don't tie it up) to help the
bulbs ripen for next year's show.
- You may place houseplants
outside once the nights remain above 50 degrees.
- Thin early seeded root
and leaf crops. Keep well watered!
- Cover tender plants if
late frost is in the forecast.
- Sow a second crop of
beets, carrots, radishes, leaf lettuce, and chard for continued
- In many areas, it's time
to plant beans, sweet corn, potato slips, pumpkin, and watermelon.
- Protect beets from leaf
miners by placing row covers over them.
- Start cucumber,
cantaloupe, summer squash, and watermelon seeds indoors.
- Before transplanting
indoor plants, harden them off. Put in a sheltered spot during the
day and bring them in at night. Then gradually increase their
exposure to sun, wind, and cool temperatures.
- Harvest rhubarb. Pull off
leaf stalks instead of cutting them.
- Start hardening off
tomatoes. Set up stakes or cages when you transplant.
- See Almanac.com/Gardening
for the Best Dates to Transplant.
- Be sure to weed your
garden before the weeds go to seed.
- Be aware of insects. Many
bugs appear in May, including lace bugs, aphids, and bagworms. See
Almanac.com/Gardening for tips on pest control.
- Plant annuals (flowers).
- Spread a little lime or
wood ashes around delphiniums and peonies.
- To encourage constant
flowering, routinely remove spent blossoms and keep them from
- Prune spring-flowering
shrubs as soon as the flowers fade. For forsythias, cut the oldest
stems to within a foot of the ground, but be sure to let the plant
keep its arching form; don't turn it into a gumdrop or cannonball.
- Mulch around your newly
planted flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and trees to help reduce weeds
and retain moisture.
- Stake up and support any
tall plants before they start to fall over.
- As the weather warms up,
increase the frequency of watering. Keep your plants well watered
throughout the growing season.
- If delphiniums need to be
divided, remove and replant the new little plants growing around the
outside of the clump. Discard the hard old heart.
- Begin planting
warm-season annuals and summer bulbs, such as dahlias and cannas.
- Pinch back growth of
newly planted annuals and perennials; this will help the plants
develop more flowers.
- Watch young transplants
carefully. Water them shallowly but often and close to the stem so
that the water will reach roots.
- Mulch between the rows of
your garden to help deter weeds.
- Continue fertilization of
your rosebushes; liquid fertilizers can be added every 2 weeks.
- Take care to keep
deciduous fruit trees well watered this month. Do not prune.
- When fruit trees are in
full bloom, avoid spraying insecticides that will kill honeybees.
- Start looking for tent
caterpillar nests in fruit trees and remove. Spray water or B.t. to
safely remove without harming trees.
- Cover fruit trees with
netting to protect the fruit from bird damage.
- When adding mulch around
trees, do not spread up to the tree trunk, and remove old mulch.
- Mow your lawn when the
grass is dry. To keep a healthy lawn, never cut more than one-third
off the total grass height.
- If you're growing plants
outdoors in containers, don't use a soilless potting mix. Be sure it
contains at least half soil. Or make your own blend for window boxes
and patio containers by mixing one part compost, one part garden
soil, and one part builder's sand.
- Sow cabbage, brussels
sprouts, and cauliflower indoors for fall garden transplants.
Northeast Region - June
- Plants that bloom now
include balloon flower; Canterbury bells; clematis; coreopsis;
delphiniums; English, painted, and Shasta daisies; foxgloves;
Oriental poppies; and sweet William.
- Encourage young fruit
trees to develop strong limbs and a wider crotch angle by weighing
down the branches with clothespins.
- Thin fruit trees by
leaving 1 fruit approximately every 6 to 12 inches along the
branches or 1 fruit per cluster. The higher the leaf-to-fruit ratio,
the sweeter the fruit. A standard apple tree should have about 40
leaves for each fruit. Dwarf apples, which usually produce a ration
of 1 fruit to about 25 leaves, will yield better-quality fruit when
- Stop cutting asparagus
when the yield decreases and the spears diminish in size. Top-dress
the bed with compost or well-rotted manure.
- Thin crowded plantings of
lettuce, carrots, beets, and herbs. Give them a good watering when
the job is finished to help the roots of remaining plants recover
from any damage your pulling may have inflicted.
- Religiously patrol your
basil plantings and remove all the clusters of flower buds that form
at the stem ends the minute you see them forming. This will
encourage nice bushy plants and a continuing supply of leaves.
- Mulch around trees to
create a safe zone where your mower won't go. Nicking a tree trunk
can seriously damage even a well-established tree.
- Mow your lawn according
to the needs of the grass, not the calendar -- for example, every
Saturday. Grasses thicken and provide better cover when regularly
clipped at the proper height. Adjust your lawn mower blades to cut
the grass at 2 or 3 inches rather than at 1 1/2 inches.
- Prune rhododendrons after
they flower. On young and old plants, snap off spent flower stalks
by bending them over until they break away from their stems. Be
careful not to damage growth buds at the base of each flower stalk.
- Don't trim iris leaves
into scallops or fan shapes after the flowers fade. Leaves carry on
photosynthesis and develop nourishment for next year's growth. Cut
off brown tips and remove the flowering stalk down to the rhizome.
If you're dividing irises, cut the leaves back by about half just
before you move them.
Note: I do NOT follow this advice. The leaves get sloppy-looking
in the summer heat and flop over. Very untidy and in the way of the
lilies. I do cut them in a fan shape, but only halfway down.
Obviously they don't mind, and photosynthesis is still happening.
- All vegetable crops,
including warm-season plants, should be in the ground now.
- Pull soil up against
potato plants when they are 9 to 12 inches tall.
- Sow more beans, carrots,
and beets for a continuous harvest.
- Start seedlings of
broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage now so they can be transplanted
in the fall.
- Look out for Japanese
beetles and knock them into a can of soapy water. See
Almanac.com/Gardening for our pest pages.
- Tomatoes, squash, and
cucumbers can use some nutrients now, so scratch some granular
fertilizer into the soil around plants or in a shallow trench
alongside a row.
- Plant colorful summer
annuals, such as cosmos, marigolds, salvia, or petunias.
- Elevate your container
plantings so water can drain.
- Remember to water your
plants. It is better to water your garden thoroughly once a week to
ensure that a deep root system is established. However, do NOT
overwater. Water slowly, deeply (5 or 6 inches deep), and let the
soil dry between watering.
- Apply a 3- to 4-inch
layer of mulch around the roots of your plants. The mulch will help
retain moisture during the dry summer months.
- Top-dress asparagus and
rhubarb with aged manure or fertilizer (10-10-10 formulation).
- Native and imported
heat-tolerant plants can be planted during summer months as long as
they are watered regularly until fall.
- Remove any dead flowers
from your perennials to encourage new growth.
- Give perennials a
fertilizer boost (5-10-10 formula).
- Help suppress weeds in
your lawn by mowing it to a height of 2 or 3 inches.
- Protect ripening
strawberries from birds. Remove blossoms from newly established
strawberry plants. Remove runners to keep energy focused on the
- Water your lawn and
gardens in the morning or late during the day to avoid any
- Fertilize roses, using a
liquid fertilizer at every watering or a dry rose fertilizer.
- Prune older canes from
- The fruiting of tomatoes
and peppers is improved by applying Epsom salts, which contains
sulfur and magnesium. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each
transplant, or spray a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per
gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set.
- Apply a layer of mulch
around your woody plants.
- Be sure to weed your
gardens regularly, as the weeds will compete with your plants for
water and nutrients.
|Northeast Region - July
- If you have any
houseplants sitting directly in the window, make sure the light is
filtered or the plant is moved to a site out of direct sunlight. The
windowpane intensifies the heat, and you don't want to scorch your
- Fertilize your
houseplants frequently to ensure vigorous growth.
- Snip off the old flower
clusters from rambler roses to encourage them to bloom all summer.
- You can sow a fall crop
of bush beans now. Plant seeds two inches deep to protect them from
the hot Sun. You can sow other vegetable seeds for an autumn yield,
too, by planting them just a little deeper than you did in the
spring. The best time to plant is after a rain shower.
- Don't water your melons
at the base of the stems. Doing so can cause rot. Build up a little
earth around the stems to keep water away.
- Once melon vines have set
three or four fruits, remove any new blossoms. The remaining fruits
will benefit from this, and you will still have plenty.
- If your trees have any
yellow or undersize foliage, start feeding them regularly. Be sure
not to overfeed them.
- Harvest summer squash
when it's young and tender (8 inches).
- As the weather warms up,
do not neglect your watering. Water deeply in the morning and avoid
light sprinklings. Water at the roots, not on the foliage.
- Start herbs such as
parsley, dill, and basil in pots for indoor use over the winter.
- Harvest tomatoes,
zucchini, beans, and other fruiting crops frequently to encourage
production and avoid attracting pests.
- Sow vegetable seeds for
your fall garden: carrots, beets, turnips, collards, Chinese
cabbage, snap beans, radish, kohlrabi, endive, kale, rutabagas, and
- Set out broccoli,
cabbage, and cauliflower transplants for your fall garden.
- Lightly fertilize
tomatoes and peppers. Don't overfertilize.
- After broccoli head is
harvested, the plant continues to grow side shoots.
- Slugs? Put out shallow
dishes of beer; handpick in the early morning. Also, deter with
eggshells and other sharp objects.
- Prevent weeds from
seeding; this will mean fewer weeds next year. Pull weeds as they
grow and use mulch in your flower beds to prevent them from
- When there is less than
an inch of rain in a week, water extra. Water in early morning.
- Mulching is an important
job to keep up with in July. Organic mulches break down over time,
so be sure to check the mulch around your plants. Keep a 3- to
4-inch layer of mulch around your plants to retain moisture. Also
keep a thick layer of mulch around the roots of trees and shrubs.
- Water your containers
twice a day. Apply a slow-release fertilizer every 2 weeks.
- If white crust develops
in containers, it's salt buildup; remove and water heavily to flush
- Remove tomato suckers to
keep the energy focused on the fruit on main branches.
- If your tomatoes have
"blossom end rot," avoid uneven watering. Mulch will help
moderate the fluctuating moisture levels that nature provides.
- Lightly fertilize
long-season plants, such as onions, tomatoes, and peppers, to help
- Pinch back mint, oregano,
and savory to promote bushier growth.
- Newly planted trees and
shrubs need one to two thorough soakings per week and lawns need 1
to 1.5 inches of water per week. Soak, don't sprinkle.
- Finish pruning
spring-flowering shrubs by mid-month.
- Annuals and perennials
can be planted at any time to fill in blank spaces in the garden.
- Remove any dead flowers
from your annuals and perennials to encourage new growth.
- Remove any spent flowers
from annuals to ensure continued blooming.
- Garlic and onions are
ready when their tops start to bend over. Remove their tops after
they've dried for a couple weeks and store in a cool place.
- During these warmer
months, raise the mowing height to 2.5 to 3 inches. Water your lawn
with 1 inch of water per week to ensure healthy growth.
- Feed your roses at
mid-month to encourage more flowering.
- Late this month, plant
iris and daylilies. Prepare soil now for fall planting.
- Dig up and divide crowded
spring-blooming bulbs whenever they are dormant.
- Generally, trees and
shrubs need deep watering every 10 to 14 days to a depth of 3 inches
with a hose at the roots. Do not fertilize, so that they can start
preparing for winter dormancy.
- Remove annual flowers
that have finished flowering - plus, any faded flowers.
|Northeast Region - August
- Compost should be watered
during dry periods so that it remains active.
- Prune only to retain the
shape. Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs such as azaleas and
rhododendrons. Do not prune trees.
- Mid-August through
September is a good time to transplant any shrubs that you've
purchased with root balls wrapped in burlap. Make sure you get them
in the ground two to three days after purchase. Do not fertilize
until the second year, when the feeding roots have become
- Lawns or bare spots
reseeded with grass now will have a chance to get established before
winter sets in. Water often and mulch with hay.
- Plant fall-flowering
- Two or three leaves
should be left when cutting gladiolus, so that the bulbs can ripen.
- Sow these perennials
outdoors for next spring: aquilegia, Phlox paniculata, digitalis,
centaurea, and primrose.
- Cut back the flower
stalks of perennials that have finished blooming. Cut delphinium
flower stalks to the ground, and a new, though smaller, flower stalk
will develop. The flower will survive the coming cold days and even
- Lift, divide, and replant
Japanese and Siberian irises soon after bloom. Transplant them to
places where they will have "wet feet but dry knees."
- If you notice a gap in
your perennial bed between spring and fall blooms, visit a local
nursery to see what's in bloom there and ask the experts for advice
on what to plant.
- The vegetable garden is
likely to require daily harvesting now. Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes,
eggplant, and peppers should be picked as soon as the fruits are
ready. This not only captures the best flavor, but it also makes way
for new fruits.
- Maximum flavor of herbs
for drying is achieved by cutting them just before their flowers
- Make sure that potatoes
are not escaping into the sunlight. Hill or mulch them if they are.
- Remove dead pea vines,
bolted lettuce, and other plants that have gone by and add them to
the compost pile. If they show signs of disease, however, burn them.
- Separate melons from the
ground with a thin board to prevent decay or damage from wireworms.
- Cut out raspberry and
blackberry canes that have just finished fruiting.
- Hardy lily bulbs may be
planted in the ground and left to overwinter outdoors.
- Do not neglect your
plants in hanging baskets; they dry out faster than those in the
- Dig up your potatoes once
the vines have died and the tops turn brown.
- Ripen tomatoes on the
vine, not the windowsill; put fallen green tomatoes in a brown paper
bag with an apple.
- Fertilize roses (last
time this year).
- Keep weeding your garden
so that the weeds do not compete with your plants for water and
- Japanese beetles?
Handpick and drop in a jar of detergent and water.
- Tomato hornworms?
Handpick and drown in soapy water or snip in half. Control the
smaller worms with B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis), a biological
- This is a great time to
plant new perennials, shrubs, and trees, especially evergreens; they
have a better chance to establish themselves during the milder fall
months than those planted in the spring.
- There's still time to
plant fall crops of beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, Chinese
cabbage, kale, lettuce, and peas.
- If there are dry spells,
remember to water your plants and shrubs thoroughly to prevent
- Remove any old plants
that have stopped producing to help eliminate insects and diseases
from your garden.
- Dig up and divide
daylilies that have finished blooming.
- Remove any dead flowers
from plants to encourage new growth.
- Order spring-blooming
bulbs at the end of the month for fall planting.
- During these warmer
months, raise the mowing height to 2.5 to 3 inches.
- Check the mulch around
your plants; if there is little or no mulch, make sure to put a 3-
to 4-inch layer to conserve moisture.
- Be sure to regularly
water your houseplants and potted plants. Use a water-soluble
fertilizer so that the plants do not lose vital nutrients. Do not
let houseplants dry out.
|Northeast Region - September
- Young trees should be
staked to prevent the roots from being pulled by fall and winter
- If you haven't brought
your houseplants in yet, do it before you have to start heating your
home. This gives them a chance to adjust. Wash them thoroughly
before bringing them in to rid them of any pests and eggs.
- Plant spring bulbs as
long as the ground is workable. Plant the following bulbs soon:
trout lily,tulip, narcissus (including daffodil), snowdrop, winter
aconite, starflower, and crown imperial. For crown imperial, add a
little lime to the soil.
- Dig up your rosemary,
basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, English thyme, parsley, and
chives to grow them inside as houseplants. Keep them in a cool,
sunny spot, and allow the soil to dry out before watering. Snip off
the leaves as needed in the kitchen, but do not strip them
- Onions are nearly ripe
when the tips of the leaves turn yellow. Break them at the necks.
This will speed the final ripening process. Loosen the soil to
encourage drying, and after a few days turn them up and let them
cure on dry ground. Always handle them very carefully -- the
slightest bruise will encourage rot to set in.
- Transplant rhubarb,
strawberries, and raspberries well before the first light frost so
that some root development may take place. Rhubarb and strawberries
deplete the soil of nutrients in a short time, so find new locations
for them every three or four years.
- Potatoes are ready for
harvest when their tops begin to turn brown.
- It's a good time to order
- This is a great time to
plant new trees and shrubs because the new roots will have plenty of
time to become established before the spring.
- Delay pruning trees and
shrubs until early next spring; however, you should remove any
broken and diseased branches.
- Be sure to keep
harvesting your fruit and vegetables so that the upcoming frost does
not destroy them.
- As you empty annual beds,
clean out all dead plants. A clean garden will have fewer diseases
next spring. Add manure, compost, and leaves to provide it with more
- In emptied vegetable
gardens, consider planting cover crops such as buckwheat or annual
rye that will protect the soil until you're ready to plant again.
- Fall is the best time to
start lawn grasses from seed. Till the soil before sowing and
provide several light waterings each week.
- Fertilize your lawn.
Lawns fertilized in the fall are better equipped to survive the
winter. Reseed in bare patches.
- Begin cutting back on
watering of the garden and lawn (except newly seeded areas) so that
plants can prepare for dormancy (not growth).
- Aerate your lawn if the
soil is compacted. Have your soil tested to see if you need lawn
- Watch for frost
forecasts. Harvest tomatoes before the first killing frost. Ripen
indoors away from sunlight.
- Harvest brussels sprouts
and parsnips once they've been exposed to frost.
- Be sure to throw away any
fallen fruit to help keep away any unwanted pests from your yard.
- Save the seeds from your
self-pollinating flowers, such as marigolds, cosmos, or coneflowers,
to plant next spring by drying them and storing them in closed
- Plant any perennials.
Divide and replant overcrowded perennial beds. Remember to apply a
layer of organic matter to the new bed.
- Do not fertilize annuals.
Cut back annuals when they finish flowering.
Northeast Region - October
- Brush your root crops
clean of any soil and store in a cool, dark place. Never refrigerate
potatoes and apples together; the apples give off ethylene gas,
which will spoil the potatoes. Clipping the tops of parsnips,
carrots, beets, and turnips will keep them fresher longer.
- Put some parsley plants
in a box and place the box in a light cellar or shed.
- Dig up and store dahlias,
gladioli, and other tender plants after the foliage is killed by a
frost. Store over the winter.
- Plant hardy
spring-flowering bulbs such as tulip, daffodil, and hyacinth bulbs
and crocus corms. Don't be too quick to cover them with mulch or it
may attract animals. Wait until the ground freezes.
- Paint any garden
structures that need it. Repair garden fences.
- Be sure to remove any
leaves from your lawn to help reduce lawn problems; use as mulch for
plants; shred leaves and add to compost.
- Clean up your lawn and
garden. Remove any dead or diseased plants, leaves, and twigs; a
clean garden means fewer diseases next spring.
- Harvest any remaining
vegetables sensitive to frost, including winter squash, pumpkins,
and sweet potatoes.
- Look for slug egg masses
under mulch and destroy.
- Do not prune
- If your peony isn't
blooming, or it is too large or misplaced, consider moving it now.
- Prune everbearing
- Transplant trees, shrubs,
- Plant garlic now for
harvesting next summer.
- Begin preparing tools for
storage by cleaning them once you're finished with them.
- Place chicken wire on the
ground over newly planted bulbs to deter animals from digging.
- Plant snowdrop, hyacinth,
and star of Bethlehem bulbs.
- Did you test your soil?
If you need to raise or lower the pH of your soil, add the required
amendments, such as sulfur or lime, this fall because they take some
time to work.
- Harvest brussels sprouts
when ready to eat; they'll sweeten through the cold snaps.
- Cut perennials 3 to 4
inches from the ground once the flower stalks have died and turned
- Leave seed heads on
asters, sunflowers, and cosmos for birds to eat over the winter.
- Remember to edge your
garden borders if you have not already done so.
Northeast Region - November
- Make certain that
climbing roses are securely attached to their supports.
- Use small stakes or
markers where you've planted bulbs or late-starting plants in the
perennial garden to avoid disturbing them when you begin spring soil
- Apply protective mulches
on the perennial garden after the ground has frozen an inch or two.
- Cover strawberries two
inches deep with hay or straw.
- Bring garden furniture
under cover if you have not already done so.
- Till the soil in your
vegetable garden to help reduce pests next spring. Also,destroy
breeding places for pests and disease by removing debris from your
- Work a trowelful of
bonemeal into the soil around your rosebushes, then hill up more
soil or mound bark mulch high around the base of the rose.
- Prune grapevines.
- Itís never too late to
apply lime to your lawn, as long as snow doesnít stop you from
pushing the spreader. The minerals in lime retain their value until
the grass is ready to grow again.
- Give the compost pile a
good turning before winter sets in.
- Give all trees and shrubs
plenty of water before the ground freezes.
- Check trees around your
house for weak branches that should be removed by you now, rather
than by snow and ice later.
- Bring garden hoses in
soon and drain outdoor faucets.
- Check the trees around
your house for any weak branches that should be removed now, before
the snow and ice hits.
- Clean shovels, spades,
pruners, and garden tools, cleaning all debris and wiping with an
oiled cloth. Sharpen blades.
- To rejuvenate a tired
lawn, aerate, spread a thin topping of compost, and rake again.
- Cover empty beds with
straw or shredded leaves to keep weeds from growing.
- Wrap young evergreens in
burlap to protect from the extreme of winter.
- To protect tender
perennials from harsh winter weather, place a wooden frame over
plants after the ground has frozen and fill with leaves.
- Scrub and disinfect
flowerpots from debris, soaking with mild bleach water solution and
- You can still plant some
spring-blooming bulbs, as long as the soil is workable.
- Now is a good time to
plant new trees and shrubs; apply a layer of mulch around the plants
and keep the soil moist.
- Add mulch to flower and
bulb beds after the ground freezes to help prevent winter damage.
- Bring in any tender
houseplants and place them in a sunny spot. Wash off any dust or
- Throw away any fruit left
on the ground or on the trees; this will help eliminate pests and
diseases from your yard.
- Store your harvest in a
root cellar or cold basement.
- Order fruit trees for
- Cover trees and shrubs
that may be damaged by deer.
- Now is the ideal time to
landscape with trees and shrubs; dig and transplant trees and shrubs
because their roots will continue to grow even though the rest of
the plant is dormant.
- Prune deciduous trees,
but only for structural and safety purposes. Do not prune fruit
trees until February or March.
- By the end of the month,
winterize the lawnmower, wiping off all dirt and debris to avoid
rusting and wear.
|Northeast Region - December
- This is a good time to
start pruning dead and dangerous limbs from trees. These should be
burned in case they harbor insects and disease. Apply tree paint to
the wounds made in sawing off limbs.
- Most plants and shrubs
winter-kill because of alternate freezing and thawing, so it is a
good idea to bank them up with snow.
- Look over the stored
vegetables frequently and remove decaying specimens.
- To protect tender
perennials from harsh winter weather, build a wooden box with no top
or bottom. Place it over the plants after the ground has frozen and
fill with leaves.
- Cover your compost pile
to prevent rains and snows from leaching out nutrients.
- If iris foliage is hit
with heavy frost, remove and destroy it to eliminate borer eggs.
- Check the
"bones" of your garden or landscape for visual appeal.
Hedges, stone walls, and pathways all contribute to the underlying
structure. Make a note of what you will change in the spring.
- If you're in an area with
snow, go out and gently shake the snow from evergreens after heavy
snowfalls; frozen wood is brittle. Remove any broken limbs with a
- Make holiday wreaths from
grapevines, greens, and dry seedpods.
- As houseplants are
growing more slowly in December light, cut down on watering by half
until active growth resumes. Hold off on fertilizing as well.
- Group houseplants near
each other to form a support group to cope with the low humidity of
most winter homes.
- After a heavy snowfall,
go out and gently shake the snow from evergreens. Work carefully
because the frozen wood is brittle. Remove any broken limbs with a
- Prune any dead or weak
branches now, so that they do not break under the snow or ice.
- Check your fruit and
vegetables in storage; throw away any that are damaged or diseased.
- Group houseplants near
each other to form a support group to cope with the low humidity of
most winter homes.
- Apply a layer of winter
mulch to protect your perennials after the first few freezes.
- Remember to remove any
new fallen leaves from your lawn and gardens, as the leaves can
block sunlight or encourage disease among your plants.
- If the weather is dry,
occasionally water your lawn, shrubs, and small trees.
- To help reduce winter
damage to your lawn, minimize traffic on the frozen grass.
- Make sure that mulch is
pulled back from tree trunks so that mice don't hide and destroy the
- Stop fertilizing and
reduce your watering by half for houseplants until active growth
- Check your houseplants
for any insects, especially spider mites. Wash off mites by setting
in the shower to wash off.
- If your houseplants have
a sticky substance on the leaves and aphids underneath, spray with
soapy water or insecticidal soap.
- Use sand on icy walks
instead of salt to avoid plant and grass damage.
- Move your houseplants
away from icy windows to prevent any chilling.
- When watering your
houseplants, avoid using cold water because it may shock the plants;
use tepid water instead.
- Houseplants with large
leaves benefit from being washed with a damp cloth to remove the
- Save and inventory
leftover seeds from your favorite plants for next spring; store them
in airtight containers and keep them in a dry place.
- Bring in the evergreens
for holiday decorations!
- Relax and dream about
next year's garden!
|Northeast Region - January
- Use this month to check
your houseplants: divide and re-pot any pot-bound plants. Prune
judiciously to create a compact, attractive specimen.
- Keep holiday poinsettias
in a sunny, cool location with high humidity.
- Closely inspect
houseplants. Remove aphids from houseplants with a mixture of equal
parts rubbing alcohol and water and add a drop of dishwashing
detergent. Apply this to troubled plants with a soft brush.
- Provide extra protection
to houseplants on window sills if it is very cold. Place cardboard
between the plants and the glass. Be sure the plants don't touch the
- Check any bulbs and
tubers you may have stored to determine if moisture is okay. Repack
bulbs that seem too damp, discarding any moldy ones. If bulbs seem
too dry, try moving them to another location.
- Start a garden record
book now, allowing space to record the dates of first and last
frosts, seed-planting dates, transplanting, time of bloom, first
fruit, fertilizing, problems with pests, and what worked and didn't
work. Over a period of years, this will be an invaluable record.
- Plan your garden and make
a diagram drawn to scale before placing your spring order.
- Organize, clean, oil, and
sharpen garden tools. A splash of bright paint on tool handles will
make them easier to spot out in the yard.
- Remember to supply fresh
water for the birds. Nuthatches, chickadees, cardinals, and juncos
will enjoy any bread scraps you may have.
- Gently shake or brush off
snow-weighted branches that have no support. Heavy snow cover
protects evergreen foliage from windburn, but too much weight will
- Prune fruit trees now.
The prunes can be gathered up into bundles to be used for kindling
after they've dried.
- Avoid walking over the
same areas of your frozen lawn, or you may find bald spots in the
- Plant lettuce in flats
this month and harvest before it's time to start some of the later
seedlings. Artificial light may be required, but the air should not
be too hot.
- Start some annual flowers
this month. Good picks include marigolds, sweet peas, stattice,
impatiens, petunias, and snapdragons.
- Choose some perennials to
start now from seed. Delphinium, Shasta daisy, carnation, digitalis,
and armeria are good choices.
- Start geranium, begonia,
vinca, and viola seeds now for spring and summer bloom. Begonia and
vinca seeds are among the hardest to germinate, so don't be
discouraged if your success rate is low or irregular.
- Avoid heavy traffic on
your lawn to avoid damage in the spring.
- Group houseplants to
increase humidity. Keep away from frosty windowsills.
- Order seed catalogs early
in the month. Research plants. Consider edible varieties that are
drought-tolerant or disease-resistant.
- Start ordering seeds. Do
not wait until late in the winter, as varieties may sell out early.
- Fertilize your
houseplants with a water-soluble fertilizer and remember to water
them. Be sure not to overwater, as that can lead to plant diseases.
- When buying seeds, look
for disease-resistant varieties to help keep diseases out of your
- Remember to wash and
sterilize seed-starting containers before planting seeds. Use 1 part
bleach to 9 parts water.
- Finalize your garden
plans on paper.
- If you want to give your
vegetables an early start, use season-extending devices such as cold
frames or hot beds.
- Keep your bird feeders
clean! Every month, wash with soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
- Prune fruit trees now.
Trim any hedges that have been damaged from snow.
|Northeast Region - February
- Re-invigorate your
houseplants by removing the top 1/4 inch of soil and top-dressing
with fresh potting soil.
- Spider mites are apt to
thrive in warm, dry houses. Frequent misting under the leaves of
houseplants will discourage them. A solution of 1 cup flour, 1/4 cup
buttermilk, and a gallon of cool water, applied in a mist, is a good
- Houseplants will be
sensitive to overfeeding at this time of year. Provide lots of
sunlight, fresh air, and frequent bathing for plants that seem a
little worse for the winter.
- Forced paper-white
narcissus will bloom more quickly now than earlier in the season.
- Shop early for seeds from
catalogs and garden stores. The early shopper gets the best choice
of seed varieties.
- Plan some window boxes.
Good choices for plants: zinnias, nasturtiums, petunias, geraniums,
begonia. Edible choices: cherry tomatoes, lettuce, kale, and herbs.
- Test the germination of
last year's surplus seeds before ordering new ones. Place ten seeds
between damp paper towels. Keep them consistently damp and in a dark
place. Check germination rates to determine how many seeds to use
for your real planting.
- Take an inventory of your
preserved foods--in the freezer, in cans, or the root cellars. This
should help you decide your seed order for the upcoming season.
- Spread wood ashes around
lilacs to benefit growth and bloom in the spring.
- Test buds of peaches and
other sensitive fruits for freeze damage. Bring in a few twigs cut
from the trees and place them in a vase of water. If the twigs bloom
in a week or two, expect blossoms in the spring and a crop next
- Set up birch branches
that may have been bent by snow or ice, as soon as possible. If
neglected, the branches will permanently adopt their leaning
- Cut poles for peas,
beans, and other climbers now. Peel off the bark and set them in a
dry area until they are needed.
- Keep this in mind while
pruning: Fruit usually grows on the horizontal branches, rather than
the vertical ones. Vertical branches may be trained to become
horizontal by weighting them down for a few weeks. This may also be
done in the summer.
- A barrel or other
covering placed over rhubarb plants will hasten the spring crop.
- Start onions from seed
now. They'll be ready for setting out in April. Onions from seed are
generally firmer and longer lasting than from sets.
- Start parsley indoors
now. You may think you have successfully wintered over the plant,
but it is a biennial and will soon go to seed.
- Avoid walking on the lawn
during a winter thaw.
- Grow some herbs in
containers, such as fresh parsley.
- You can start some
perennials now, including delphinium, carnation, and armeria.
- Start some annuals,
especially those that have slow growth, including marigolds,
impatiens, pansies, snapdragons, and petunias.
- Don't forget winter
birds! Put out water, seeds, and suet.
- Remember to prune your
houseplants regularly. Pinch back new growth to encourage bushier
- Rotate houseplants so
they get even sun and growth.
- Force a winter bouquet
from cut branches of forsythia, pussy willow, deutzia, wisteria,
lilac, apple, peach, or pear. Bruise the cut ends and set them in
water. Spray the branches frequently. Keep them in a cool place
until they bloom, then move to a warmer area for display.
photos, graphics and designs©2020 marysbloomers.com
All rights reserved