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.

 

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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 www.Almanac.com/PlantingTable.
  • 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 fruiting trees.
  • 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.
  • Plant 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 planting.
  • 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 degrees.
  • 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 bed.
  • 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 clumps.
  • 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 houseplants again.

 

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 dehydrated.
  • 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 harvest.
  • 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 getting bone-dry.
  • 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.

 

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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 thinned.
  • 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 fruit.
  • Water your lawn and gardens in the morning or late during the day to avoid any evaporation.
  • Fertilize roses, using a liquid fertilizer at every watering or a dry rose fertilizer.
  • Prune older canes from climbing roses.
  • 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 plants.
  • 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 summer squashes.
  • 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 sprouting.
  • 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 out salts.
  • 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 encourage growth.
  • 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 established.
  • 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 bulbs now.
  • 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 light frosts.
  • 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 open.
  • 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 ground.
  • 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 nutrients.
  • 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 control.
  • 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 drought damage.
  • 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.

 

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Northeast Region - September

 

  • Young trees should be staked to prevent the roots from being pulled by fall and winter winds.
  • 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 completely.
  • 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 spring-flowering bulbs.
  • 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 organic matter.
  • 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 fertilizer.
  • 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 containers.
  • 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 spring-flowering shrubs.
  • If your peony isn't blooming, or it is too large or misplaced, consider moving it now.
  • Prune everbearing raspberries.
  • Transplant trees, shrubs, and rosebushes.
  • 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 brown.
  • 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 preparation.
  • 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 garden.
  • 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 rinsing.
  • 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 insects.
  • 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 next year.
  • 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.

 

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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 sharp saw.
  • 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 sharp saw.
  • 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 bark.
  • Stop fertilizing and reduce your watering by half for houseplants until active growth resumes.
  • 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 dust.
  • 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 windowpanes.
  • 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 break branches.
  • 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 spring.
  • 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 garden.
  • 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 organic deterrent.
  • 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 fall.
  • 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 position.
  • 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 plants.
  • 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.

 

 


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