How Does Your Garden Grow: The New England Growing Year

We don’t know about you, but when we look out of our window during these cold winter months, we see our once vibrant gardens looking forlorn and unloved. Bedding plants have died back, perennials are now no more than twigs in the ground and the grass looks worn out and tired.

But it’s not all doom and gloom – your garden and everything in it has remarkable powers of recovery. OK, so the more delicate annual bedding plants will have to be discarded but everything else…well, just wait!

There is no doubt that the seasons in New England present us with some very different conditions and as gardeners, we need to be prepared.

Winter is the best time to do all your garden planning, seed buying, cleaning of old containers and researching your ideas for plants and where to put them! Protect your garden beds with mulch and in areas where the wind whips in, add some protection with hedges or fencing.

In spring when we can finally get outside, start by clearing the debris from beds and borders and dig over the vegetable patch. Note where the spring bulbs are flowering so that you can plant annuals and perennials around them. Watch out for ‘winter burn’ on evergreens (the browning off of leaves) but hold fast…they can recover so don’t prune just yet.

Late spring is the time to plant some of the heartier vegetables such as snow peas and Boston lettuce. For color, add violas and pansies into the garden beds.

In summer we turn up the heat in the garden and make use of our winter and spring rainfall harvesting. As your drought tolerant plants thrive and your tomato plants get weighed down with an overabundance of little red gems, it reminds us to order less next year!

Don’t mow the lawn to its base. Keeping the lawn long will improve the root system and prevent weeds from taking over. Prune rose suckers and deadhead annuals to keep the blooms coming and keep on top of those pesky beetles with natural pesticides wherever possible. It’s a busy season but make sure you take the time to enjoy your space as well – after all, that’s why we put in all that hard work isn’t it?

Fall in New England surely is the most spectacular season. The changing colors of foliage are well worth a road trip to enjoy the best that nature has to offer. In our backyards, there is still plenty of work to do with clean-up and raking dead leaves (rake don’t use a leaf blower). Raking is great exercise, it can help the ground too by leaving just enough residue to feed and protect. Make sure that you compost and don’t burn the leaves and use a chipper if possible on branches so you can make your own mulch. Remember, fallen leaves harbor disease. Bring in tender perennials and container plants, seed and mulch bare patches in the lawn and then leave the lawn to rest. Take a note of what worked and what didn’t so when it comes to next years planning it will be so much easier. Finally, use the garden to make gorgeous fall decorations for the house and start to bring the outside, inside!

Throughout this year we shall revisit the “How Does Your Garden Grow” theme to offer you an in-depth guide to each of the seasons, giving you hints and tips on what to grow and how to grow them. But for now, enjoy your garden planning and rest assured, those glorious spring days will soon be with us.