Stock up on plants, shrubs and flowering vines now and be ready for next season
Whether you're new to your home or a seasoned gardener, knowing when to purchase plants and shrubs can save you money.
Now is a great time to shop for and plant new trees, climbing vines and shrubs. You can get them in the ground now and they'll be ready to bloom in spring!
A favorite to addition to lawns and gardens that you can purchase now is the climbing hydrangea.
This climbing vine grows and flowers in shade, has beautiful white, lacy flowers in summer, yellow foliage in fall and cinnamon-colored bark in winter.
Plan out where this climbing vine will grow best, as it can reach 40 to 50 feet tall.
Climbing hydrangea grows on the north side of houses and even flowers on the north side of a house or a building.
Even more bang for the buck: this climbing vine has four seasons of interest.
In the spring, glossy green leaves unfurl and create a nice visual barrier on the side of a barn, garage or house.
In the summer, the climbing hydrangea boasts white petals that bloom into lace-like flowers, and bees and pollinators love them.
In the fall, the foliage turns yellow and then once all the leaves drop in the winter, this climbing vine has bark that turns a cinnamon color to it exfoliates.
The climbing hydrangea, though, is pretty slow to get going. If you planted now it may take up to three years for it to get established and start growing and flowering.
This hydrangea also attaches itself with aerial roots like the Virginia creepers you might see on old brick buildings in New England.
Take note, too, if you plant it near your home and it begins to climb up vinyl or wooden siding on your house, that could become an issue. Eventually that could cause moisture and rot.
Instead, create a strong trellis structure that you could attach to your home or barn, then grow the climbing hydrangea up the trellis.
One variety, called Miranda, has variegated leaves of white and green. Another one called Firefly has yellow and green leaves. And if you really want something a little bit unusual, you can try the Japanese climbing hydrangea with pink colored flowers.
Q: I planted two gourd plants this year to turn into eventual dried gourd birdhouses in a 20-gallon grow bag. The plants did pretty well and I have some impressive gourds, almost ready to be dried. Unfortunately powdery mildew also grew well on the plants. I was able to keep it somewhat controlled with Neem oil spray and pruning affected leaves. I’m now wondering if I can reuse this grow bag and any/all of the soil? Kim, in South Burlington
Mildew on gourds is not unusual, especially on the leaves.
As you're harvesting those gourds, wipe them off with a rag that's soaked in a 10-percent bleach solution. This will kill any of the mildew or fungal spores that might cause that skin to start rotting.
As far as the soil goes, powdery mildew is just ubiquitous in the environment. You're going to get it every year depending upon the weather and how wet it is.
If the soil was healthy, and you didn't have other problems with it, go ahead and reuse it.
Q: I'm pretty sure that the greater number of earthworms showing up this year in our vegetable garden are crazy worms. They look like some of the pictures shown on the internet. How worried should I be? What can be done, if anything? - Phil, in West Lebanon, NH
Snake worms (also called crazy worms or jumping worms) in your garden can cause your soil to not be as fertile. That is because these worms eat a huge amount of all the organic matter.
Ridding your garden of them will help the soil rebound and there are a few techniques you can try. The research and information gathered by Josef Gorres at the University of Vermont has helpful information. As does the Cornell Cooperative Extension website.
One method to try involves mustard and hot water. First, mix up 1/3 cup of yellow mustard seed in a gallon of water and douse that on your garden.
The worms don’t like the mustard and this will drive them to the surface. Once they emerge, pick them out of the soil and place in a plastic bag and let that sit out for a few days.
Sprinkling diatomaceous earth or biochar on the top layers of the soil could also help rid your garden of snake worms.
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