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How to Garden During April in New England

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Apr 22, 2016

It’s April here in New England and if you’re into gardening, you’re probably itching to get outside and dig in the dirt like me.  We just can’t wait to begin tilling the soil, planting delicious veggies and designing beautiful beds of flowers everywhere but here’s the problem…  This is Massachusetts.  The sad fact is that it’s still a bit chilly at night and the weather is still fluctuating between winter weariness and summer’s delight.  That’s why we call this time on the calendar “spring” because unfortunately, the days are unpredictable making gardening a bit tricky.  I know the idea of waiting for another month to plant might sound agonizing but putting anything in the earth before Mother Nature gives her “okay” will only lead to expensive trips to the nursery when you have to redo your harvest.  It’s just not worth it but that’s not to say that we can’t accomplish other preparations before then!  


So what are a few of the tasks we can get started on?  There’s plenty!  Here’s a list to keep you well occupied in your backyards until May arrives and remember - a happy gardener is a busy gardener!

April To-Do Gardening List

  1. Re-seeding your lawns when the weather hits 60 degrees is a great way to get things rolling in a “greener” direction.  Patch up spots of space that may have been affected by the harsh cold temperatures and fill in places where the grass seems to have become thin.

  1. Load up on your favorite seeds like peas, lettuce and zucchini!  Just because you can’t put them in the ground right away doesn’t mean you can’t look at the pretty packages and dream until then.  Stores such as Ocean City Job Lot often run sales at this time so take advantage!

  1. Take a trip to Home Depot and gather supplies to correct or insert new raised beds and trellises.  This is an excellent time to get this done because pretty soon you’ll want to fill them up with crops.  Adding soil is another chore you won’t want to wait too for either since hauling heavy bags when the warmth finally arrives might get a little sticky...
  1. Drag out the lawn furniture and set up shop for the season!  Hold back on patio umbrellas that might snap with unruly lingering weather but take your tables and chairs out of storage in case there’s a night when you prefer to dine alfresco!

  1. The rule is that you have to wait to plant seeds until late spring/ early summer but there are actually some varieties that can take the chill and survive an April sowing.  Peas, herbs and some lettuce species are hearty and will also give you something to take care of outside until the rest of your seeds are ready!

Tags: Gardening, New England, Gardening in Boston, April, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

Early Seedling Starters

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Mar 11, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I’m already getting the itch to start my indoor seedlings even though there’s still snow falling on the ground!  For many New Englanders, this is a common frustration since we know that planting too early in the spring season will not cultivate a healthy crop once it is transferred outdoors.  Plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and peas are perfectly ok but for other species, it can be a problem.  While the average time to begin this process is usually the middle of April, you’ll be glad to know that there are actually a few varieties of vegetables that will do just fine if not benefit from a March potting.  Usually, these types are typically those that take a prolonged period of time to get going, which is an important variable to learn about when selecting your seeds.  Since we must keep in mind the temperature constraints of our climate having such a short summer season compared to other southern states, veggies that take four to five months to mature with fruit almost have to be planted indoors way before the normal gardening season.  Fussy produce such as peppers, corn, cauliflower, celery, garlic, onions and eggplant can be challenging for Boston green thumbs so getting a jump on these before April will be helpful.

And why not?  It only takes a few basic things to get started!  

All you have to do is find a warm and sunny area of your home and set up camp!  Select your seeds from either a catalog or store and then grab an empty egg carton or potato chip container.  They might not seem like it but they are excellent for nurturing organic soil because both materials encourage growth and moisture.  Finding a radiator in close proximity will also give your seeds a nice little push as well since an added bit of heat can trick the seeds into thinking it’s summer.  Water as needed and let them do their own thing on their own time until the stems are at least two to three inches in height.  When they get that big, they are ready to be transplanted into your garden.  That is, if the earth has warmed enough to be adequate for growing.  If the ground is still frozen, you’ll have to wait a bit longer but don’t worry because the seedlings will do just fine inside.  


Tags: Gardening, Seeds, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar, Garden, March

Best Seeds to Grow Indoors Over the Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Sat, Nov 28, 2015

It’s getting chilly outside and for most of us avid gardeners; we’re a little depressed over our season coming to end.  The leaves are falling from the trees, the flowers have died back and we know all to well that snowflakes will begin to fall very soon.  


But is that any reason to put away our “Green Thumbs” until next spring?  Heck No!


There is plenty to do while the forecast turns dismal, many of which we can do right in our homes!  Just because our backyards will be off limits for months, doesn’t mean that a windowsill in our kitchen or living room won’t provide the perfect space for a new garden to flourish!  True, you’ll need the right amount of warm light, potting soil and adequate containers to grow your fruits, flowers and vegetables but its all possible if you select the right varieties.  Some types of plants just don’t do well inside, so it’s important to recognize these in advance and select other options that will otherwise benefit from being placed in this specific environment.  Order online or visit your local garden center to pick up these seeds to harvest (promising to live well with the proper care) in your house this winter!


These fruits are great to grow during the colder season because all you need to start is the pit of an old avocado.  Cut the pit open and place toothpicks through the center, placing over a bowl of water.  Once sprouts begin to grow, place in a pot with a sunny view.  Make sure the planter is well drained and add a little sand to the soil to cultivate a healthy root system.  


Grab your old spuds and place them in a bin full of well-drained soil.  When you see their “eyes” peek above ground level, a plant will soon emerge, which is fun in itself to watch grow.  Once the plants are about a foot tall and their white flowers have died back, its time to go digging!  You’ll love their fresh taste and the fact that they long outlive your groceries store’s selection.  


Lettuce is quick and virtually effortless to grow when you have a well-lit area and a soil rich in compost. Select a hardy variety such as red or Boston lettuce and watch them sprout almost as quickly as you planted the seeds.  This veggie is perfect for salads or to simply brighten up a room!



These are so much fun to watch grow and easy, too!  Make sure you plant the seeds in a container at least a foot and a half deep to ensure a healthy veggie size. They love to be regularly watered and are ready to be plucked free from the earth when they are ¾ inches in width across the top.  


There’s a reason why petunias are the first flowers to arrive in the markets once the spring comes around and that’s because they are easy-peasy to grow in colder temperatures.  Find an area of your home that produces a lot of sunlight and water the plantings regularly.  Pretty soon you’ll find you have a beautifully colored flower garden all to yourself!

Tags: Gardening, winter, Seeds, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

October Gardening Calendar

Posted by Suzie Canale on Thu, Oct 01, 2015

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Garden Calendar, October

Preparing Your Garden for Winter

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Sep 21, 2015

Winterizing your gardens can be depressing to say the least but I assure you, it is necessary if you’re looking for another successful spring season.  I know, I know, you don’t want to say goodbye to the beautiful cascading nasturtiums or the striking sunflowers that are standing tall and proud but if we don’t get a few of the necessary tasks accomplished, you can actually hurt next year’s crop and damage perennials that are more than willing to sprout again if well managed.  It’s really not as bad as you think and honestly doesn’t take up a ton of time during your last summer days of outdoor enjoyment.  The clean up simply consists of tidying and readying your beds for a long winter’s sleep so that when the warmer weather arrives, your flowers will be able to successfully perform once again.  Healthy and strong root systems depend on your gardening grooming technique so be prepared and make time to winterize your green thumb efforts.  New England is known for our chilly season of snow and sleet so do your plants a favor and tuck them in right before the storms hit once again!  



Now is the time to plant those new bulbs if you are seeking to grow new alliums, tulips or other fancy varieties.  Fall is the ideal period to start digging and placing them throughout the garden but keep in mind that some of the older bulbs might need your attention as well.  Some varieties cannot withstand frigid temperatures and need to be taken out of the earth and stored in a cool dark place such as a wooden box.  Once the ground thaws again, replant them in their original places to see them sprout strong and vibrant stems.  



If you’re a wildflower lover, you can do a few things to ensure their return such as spread mulch over the tops of their dormant stems and leaves to alleviate some of the harsh impact of ice.  Clearing the area from debris can also help them “sleep” better for the winter as well as clipping off any dead blossoms.  Generally, wild flowers are fuss free and will cultivate all by themselves but you never know the real damage caused by a tough January or February so its better to be prepared for the worst.  Your Black Eyed Susan’s will thank you in May!


Outdoors to the Indoors

Just because there are several annuals in your garden that won’t make it outside during the winter doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye forever!  Certain plants do quite well when repotted and placed in a sunlit area of your home and can be put back outside when the spring arrives.  Blooms that I’ve tried and had success with are herbs (lavender, parsley, rosemary and basil do the best), geraniums (remember to consistently prune and nip dead flowers throughout the year), chocolate cosmos (yes, this delicate warm loving flower can be brought inside just don’t over water it) and succulents (again, don’t over water) can outlast the snow and the cold until the next gardening season arrives!


Tags: Gardening, Autumn, winter, outdoors, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

Gardening Calendar for August

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jul 31, 2015


Tags: Garden Calendar, Summer, Perennials, Tomatoes, August

Gardening Calendar for July

Posted by Suzie Canale on Wed, Jul 01, 2015

July_Calendar-page0001 an easy reference guide for the novice, intermediate or expert gardener.

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, outdoors, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar, July

How To Start Your Dream Garden

Posted by Suzie Canale on Fri, Jun 19, 2015

The garden industry is worth millions and sales depend on the coaxing of the customer to buy products that they believe their gardens are dependent on.  Over the last few years items such as non-chemical fertilizers, organic soil mixtures, hybrid packs of grown plants, expensive tools, varmint free fencing and state of the art hose nozzles have been mass marketed to appeal to the struggling green thumb who is determined to have a healthy and happy garden.  Many end up spending hundreds of dollars purchasing these products from name big companies with the hopes that they will cure all of their gardening woes.


Don’t be fooled…


Propagating a successful vegetable and flowerbed can be done without expensive tabs or exorbitant processes.  There’s a better way and a lot cheaper strategy to cultivate your dream garden!  All you need are the essentials, most of which you probably have.  Here’s my list for my summer gardening needs that are easy and inexpensive to buy or things that I reuse to help my garden beds during the summer season.


The Plot

If you have a backyard with a ton of space, you’re lucky because all you have to do is choose an area that is the right size for your garden that receives sunlight.  You’ll need full sun for vegetables and partial to full light for flowers.  If you don’t have a useful part of land for gardening, keep reading…


The Soil

Whether the soil that you have in your yard is sufficient to grow plants depends on the consistency, sediment and moisture of the earth.  If your ground is soft and adequate for easy plotting than you may have lucked out and you can skip the potting soil step.  If you have a hard, dry and coarse platform to work with, you might want to consider making your own raised beds.  Please don’t run out and buy a pre-constructed kit from a hardware store or garden center-its not necessary.  You can either find some scrap wood planks to nail together to form a hollow square or look around your house for old furniture.  If you find a bureau or nightstand that you don’t want, take the drawers out and place them directly in the yard.  They make perfect flower and vegetable beds plus you’ll feel great knowing that your green thumb extending to the green reuse of unwanted items. 



Trust me, there’s no better way to produce plants than starting with a simple germinated seed.  Not only can you start them indoors but the roots will also fixate better in the ground than a pre-bought plant that has already rooted somewhere else. If you want a suggested brand for seeds, I would advise on buying from Burpee.  Although they are a bit more expensive in some nurseries, you can grab great deals at discounted stores such as Ocean State Job Lot where they are almost half the price!

Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, Vegetable Garden, Garden Calendar

Gardening Calendar for June in Boston

Posted by Suzie Canale on Mon, Jun 01, 2015


Tags: Gardening, Gardening in Boston, outdoors, June, Garden Calendar

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