Use 2 or 3 inches of seedless straw as a mulch — don’t use hay as it carries an awful lot of weed seeds!
Weeding by hand — it’s not easy but it’s cheap, and it works!
Strawberries are a lot of work, but worth every delicious bite!
Q: I really would like to grow a tomato plant in a pot indoors this winter. It was a last-minute thought — I guess I could get seed — but where can I get a tomato plant this late in the year?
A: You probably can’t get a plant, but if there hasn’t been a hard killing frost, you can take a cutting of one you grew this summer (or beg for one from your neighbor). Tomatoes will root easily.
As a last resort, try calling around to local nurseries — sometimes nurseries with greenhouses have a leftover potted patio tomato plant for sale.
Unless you have grow lights or an extremely sunny window with southern exposure, don’t expect much fruit. If you get a flower, be prepared to hand pollinate it with a tiny paintbrush — there are no natural pollinators indoors. Watch out for all of the normal indoor plant pests, especially white fly, spider mite and mealy bugs. Does all this work sound discouraging just for a beautiful, ripe, juicy tomato or two? You’re right on! If you want to be able to harvest a touch of something fresh and green from your sunny windowsill this winter, you’d be better off growing some herbs!
This week’s dirt: Final cleanup days are coming, but before you venture out into the wild, learn what poison ivy looks like in the fall. It still has three leaves, but they’re turning red now and soon will turn brown; they’ll still cause a bad rash! Wear gloves, long pants and a long-sleeve shirt while in the fields, and don’t burn the garden trash! The oils can cause as much trouble as fresh poison ivy.
North Shore Gardener by Barbara Barger of Beverly is a feature of Friday’s Lifestyles section. Reach Barbara by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to her c/o The Salem News, 32 Dunham Road, Beverly, MA 01915. Previous North Shore Gardener columns can be found at www.nsgardener.com.