September 2019       Volume 9, No. 8
Hello Everyone,

What a beautiful time of year to be in the garden! I hope you can get out to enjoy some time relaxing and deep breathing in your own bit of utopia or in a nearby nature preserve. Enjoy all the colors of the season, quickly, while it lasts.

Fall is in the Air

Our crews are busy daily with fall tasks, including lots of planting and transplanting. Now is the time, as plants root best while soil temperatures are warm. We cut off fall planting at the end of October, as it is a risk to plant so close in time to the cold temperatures and bitter winds of winter.
We will start bulb planting around Columbus Day and aim to finish up before Veteran's Day so that all bulbs root in well before the ground freezes. No bulbs ordered yet but still want them? Please let Priscilla know immediately at so that your bulbs will ship with our orders during the first full week of October.
It is so warm now that the first frost seems far off...but we are keeping an eye on the forecast and daily temperatures. We will be pulling soil tests shortly and planning your nutrient density soil amending program.  Many clients have seen a gain in plant growth, bloom and fruit production as a result of this work, not to mention overall plant health. We like to get the amendments down in October and November so that the freezing and thawing cycles of winter can help break up the various rock powders and natural materials used. Your plants will benefit!

Fall Watering Instructions

I was working in my garden over the weekend and noticed that the small shrubs I planted last year showed the first signs of wilting! Sure enough, dry soil lay under the leaf mulch. So I got out the watering can and made the rounds, filling up the well around each plant. Please keep an eye (and we will do the same) on this situation in your own garden. While this spring featured frequent rains and the soil remained fairly moist all season, now is the dangerous time when it is dry. Our new plants are not completely rooted yet and WILL dry out unless we help them along.
Link to Fall Watering instructions here!

Mildew on Your Plants?  Call Us!

The white powdery mildew sometimes seen on phlox, helianthus, lilacs, dogwoods, and the like at this time of year is rather unsightly. This fungus spreads, so be sure to avoid working with these plants during wet weather. Do not handle the leaves at all if you can help it!
We have had success with soil amending to correct mildew, as it is a sign of a lack of potassium and micronutrients. Preventative sprays are available in an organic program, and are best applied starting back in June. Once the white fungus appears, it is on the leaves for good that season. Dividing the plants to promote better air circulation will help, as will careful siting away from areas where there is never a breeze stirring, such as against a stone wall or foundation.
Let us test your soil and develop a program to combat the powdery mildew syndrome this fall. Contact Kimberly for details,

Plant Pick : Asters and Goldenrods, inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer's book Braiding Sweetgrass

I re-read this great book recently with my book group. The author decided to study botany as a young college student because she wanted to find out why asters and goldenrods like to grow together. They certainly are a perfect color combination in our fields, roadsides and gardens. And perfectly native to New England!

Aster divaricatus 
(White wood aster) likes dry woods and clearings, among the first to bloom, short, can act as an effective groundcover over time 

Aster novae-angliae 
(New England aster) blooms late September into October, purple flowers, very tall

Aster novi-belgii
 (New York aster) is short and full, purple or pink

Solidago caessia
(Wreath goldenrod) is an arching,wreath-like goldenrod with small yellow flowers in the leaf axils

Solidago speciosa 
(Showy goldenrod) has large heads, tall

I'm not as fond of the tall Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) that blooms early in fields and wild places. This plant has running roots that soon take over the garden. That's why you'll see me digging it out if I find it among your perennials. However, this plant fills a valuable niche in wide open spaces. And if you think goldenrod gives one hay fever, not true! It is the lowly ragweed that is the culprit!
Asters have long been my favorite flower, so I can't wait until my collection begins to bloom this week. I'm on the late side due to the shade factor, but I have everything staked and ready. Staking is a necessity, even though I pinch the asters back twice before July 4, just in case of heavy wind and rain from a fall hurricane. Once these plants splay open, they are very hard to stake, so hopefully, you started early on this project. I overlooked one plant and have a big note to catch it next June. In the meantime, it can be a vase flower when it blooms.

If you are interested in pollinator gardening, these plants are a MUST for your garden. New studies are showing that the straight species plants (as outlined above) have far more nutritional value for pollinators than named varieties with showy colors, adjusted heights or double flowers. Stay tuned as the debate continues on this topic between growers and scientists!

Anti-desiccant and Deer Protection: Now is the Time to Plan Ahead for Winter

Our Plant Health Care Manager, Reese Crotteau, is looking ahead to our November season of anti-desiccant and deer protection applications. We aim to prevent winter damage from scorching sun low in the sky in late winter plus potential harsh wind action on broadleafed evergreens like rhododendron, holly, and boxwood through our anti-desiccant spray program. This product consists mainly of pine sap and is applied through our sprayers in November. It coats the leaves just like lip balm through winter, then deterioriates naturally with the warm weather of spring.  
Deer are more prevalent than ever in our region. Their diet in winter turns to woody plants, unfortunately, and all our landscapes are vulnerable to damage. We will continue our deer repellent spray program in November. This year we will also offer to install a deer fencing system in the fall that involves inserting a sleeve in the ground so that poles can be quickly installed in the same spot, year after year, to support winter fencing around plants that deer like to eat. If you have hollies, rhododendrons, witch hazels, yews, oak leaf hydrangeas and the like, please consider this program. All fencing can safely be removed in April when the grass greens up and deer move on, then stored until late next fall.
If you participated in these programs last year, we have you on our list and will contact you to confirm the application. Others may want to join the program now or consider the new deer fencing option. Please contact Kimberly Kuliesis, Operations Manager, to arrange an estimate.

Tick and Mosquito Update

Everyone is on the alert for the deadly EEE virus (Eastern Equine Encephalitis), transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito and reported in some of our service area. Here is information on aerial spraying with pesticides, already performed at night in some of our communities:  Read Mass Gov File
Those who have been using our monthly Tick and Mosquito spray service using essential oil repellents have no doubt encountered fewer of these pests. Frost will end mosquito season, but ticks are very active once leaves fall on the ground and hold in moisture. Please let us know if you would like to extend your service through October and November or sign up anew by contacting Kimberly
 Kuliesis, for an estimate.  We urge you all to take precautions, wear repellents, check yourself, pets and children, and to limit outdoor activities after 6 pm.

Priscilla's To-Do List for Late September/Early October
  • Continue to deadhead and deadleaf perennials, making way for fall color
  • Cut down any mildewed peony, helianthus or phlox and make plans to amend soil or transplant
  • Stake tall aster, goldenrod, boltonia against wind and rain storms
  • Freshen containers for fall, removing spent summer plants
  • Continue to foliar feed annuals such as dahlias, lantana and marigold that bloom all fall
  • Keep up with weeding and be sure to at least cut off and bag seed heads on tall weeds to prevent them from blowing into your cultivated areas
  • Plant, transplant and divide perennials until the end of October
  • Transplant shrubs from end of September until the end of October, just before leaf drop for less stress and transplant shock
  • Test soil for amending later in fall
  • Protect tender annuals with insecticidal soap spray before bringing indoors for winter at signs of a frost
  • Finalize bulb orders for planting in October
  • Clean up spent crops in the vegetable patch and sow cover crops in bare soil areas to discourage weed seeds and enrich soil
  • Refresh the vegetable garden with small starts of Swiss chard, kale and lettuce
  • Plant cilantro now since it prefers cool weather
  • Make notes about changes to the garden for 2020

We look forward to seeing you soon in your garden to help you tackle all these fall chores in a timely way!
Priscilla and the PBOG Crew

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