Video Look: What’s Growing in our Woburn Greenhouses

We took the camera over to our Woburn growing facility for a sneak peek at all that’s growing! Beautiful hanging baskets, pansies, veggies, geraniums, and so much more! Fresh shipments are arriving to our stores almost every day!

Video Look: What’s In Store April 23, 2020

We know it doesn’t quite feel like Spring, but here’s a sneak peek of what’s happening in-store! We have many beautiful cold-tolerant annuals to plant now, fresh edibles and herbs, flowering trees and fruit trees, perennials, pottery and more!

Now’s the time to plant cool-season veggies

Cold crop vegetables are varieties of veggies that tolerate, or even love the cold. Broccoli, lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, kale, cabbage, and more are ready to plant now! They thrive in early spring’s cold soil temperatures. If you’ve never grown cool-season crops, or even if you’ve never grown any vegetables, we recommend giving cold crop gardening a try. Keep an eye on the forecast, if temps dip into freezing temperatures, simply cover your veggies with an old sheet or bring them indoors for the night.

Look out for these in-stores! Please note, supplies and selection will vary at each Mahoney’s location.

 

Arugula

 

Beans

Blue Lake Bush

Golden Wax

Green & Gold

Kentucky Blue

 

Beets

Bull’s Blood

 

Broccoli

Destiny

Green Magic

 

Brussell Sprouts

Jade Cross

 

Cabbage 

China Express

Copenhagen

Red Express

 

Carrot

Danvers 126

 

Cauliflower

 

Collard Greens 

Georgia

 

Kale 

Biera

Red Russian

Tuscano

Vates

 

Lettuce

Allstar Gourmet Mix

Butercrunch

Iceberg

Mesculin

Red Fire

Romaine

Sandy

Wildfire Mix

 

Pak Choi

Bopak

Joi Choi

 

Peas

Dwarf Grey Sugar

Sugar Snap

Tall Telephone

 

Spinach

Avon

Bloomsdale

 

Swiss Chard

Bright Lights

Ruby Red

Grown locally in our Woburn, MA greenhouses, you’ll love our Uncle Mike’s herbs and veggies!

Now’s the time to apply your crabgrass preventer

It’s the perfect time to apply the first step of your lawn program: crabgrass preventer. Nature’s indicator is when you see the forsythia shrubs blooming. When it is warm enough for those early-spring blooms to appear, it is warm enough for crabgrass to germinate in your lawn. Stop in to talk to one of our lawn care experts today to help you achieve a beautiful lawn, traditionally or organically. Learn more here:

TRADITIONAL LAWN CARE ORGANIC LAWN CARE

Now Blooming in the Nursery: Forsythia

Forsythia x intermedia ‘Lynwood Gold’

The bright yellow flowers of Forsythia are a sure sign that winter is behind us. Long a staple in gardens throughout New England, we sometimes take these familiar stalwarts for granted. But here is a variety that will inspire you to renew your acquaintance with this useful shrub.

Forsythia ‘Lynwood Gold’ offers the largest flowers of any Forsythia, creating a spectacular display. It has deep golden yellow flowers which literally cover the branches with bloom. The effect is stunning. The foliage emerges after the flowers fade and in autumn, the leaves turn a lovely butter yellow.

Upright in its growth habit, ‘Lynwood Gold’ will grow 6’-8’ in height and a similar width. It is easily pruned to maintain a desired size; however, pruning should be done immediately after flowering as flower buds for next spring will form during this summer. A mid-summer or fall pruning will remove next year’s flower show.

Forsythia performs best in full sun. It can be grown as a specimen plant or planted in a row to create an attractive deciduous hedge. And who can resist cutting a few branches of Forsythia as the blooms begin to open and bringing them indoors for a beautiful spring bouquet!

Spring Flowering Trees

One of the prettiest sights of the gardening year is the show provided by spring flowering trees. Who can resist the frothy pink flowers of the Kwanzan Cherry or the long-lasting and elegant flowers of the Dogwood? Many spring flowering trees are suitable for the residential landscape and are fully hardy in our area. Not only do they provide an early and welcome burst of color after a long winter, their leaves offer interesting shapes and textures throughout the summer and lovely color in the fall. Their bare branches in winter add structure and a sense of sculpture to the garden, making them four season contributors to the landscape. But at this time of year it is the joy of seeing them in bloom that most endears them to us. Here are some of our favorite options to consider.

 

Eastern Redbud

Cercis canadensis

One of our native trees, the Eastern Redbud is a true harbinger of spring. In late April and early May before the leaves emerge, clusters of magenta buds open to rose pink flowers, offering a breathtaking sweep of color. A small low branching tree, it has a spreading habit and rounded crown, altogether an elegant form. Redbuds are also available in a weeping form. Leaves are distinctly heart shaped, opening in tones of bronze or reddish purple. They become bluish green as the season progresses, turning yellow in the fall. With age, the bark develops exfoliating rust colored patches. Varieties to consider include ‘Appalachian Red’, ‘Ruby Falls’, ‘Pink Heartbreaker’ and ‘Forest Pansy’.

 

FLORIDA DOGWOOD

Florida Dogwood ‘Cherokee Brave’

 

Cornus florida

Cornus florida is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful small ornamental trees. Native to the East Coast of the US, it offers so much to the gardener. It blooms in early spring, usually mid to late April and into May, before the leaves appear. The true dogwood flowers are actually tiny, yellowish green button-like clusters. However, each flower cluster is surrounded by four showy petal-like bracts which open flat, giving the appearance of a single, large, 4-petaled flower. Oval, dark green leaves, turn attractive shades of red in fall and hold that color for a long period of time. An added bonus in late summer and into the fall are the bright red fruits, bitter tasting to us but much loved by the birds. Cornus florida typically grows 15’-20’ tall with a low-branching, broadly-pyramidal habit. Varieties to consider include ‘Cherokee Brave’, ‘Cherokee Princess’ and ‘Rubrum’.

 

KOUSA DOGWOOD

Kousa Dogwood, one of the few flowering trees to bloom in June.

Cornus KOUSA

The leaves of Cornus kousa emerge in spring, followed in early summer by star-shaped white blossoms. One of the few trees to bloom in June! Red fruits form in late summer and have an interesting knobby texture. They attract birds and persist through the autumn. The leaves turn rich colors of red, orange and scarlet in the fall. They eventually drop to reveal the tree’s distinctive horizontal branching pattern and mottled tan/grey bark. Among the many varieties of Cornus kousa are ‘Galilean’, ‘Heart Throb’, ‘Milky Way’, and ‘National’.

 

Cornus x Rutgan ‘Stellar Pink’

Cornus x Rutgan ‘Stellar Pink’

 

The breeding program at Rutgers University has produced Dogwoods which are a cross between Cornus florida and Cornus kousa. They bloom after the Cornus florida varieties, but before the Kousa varieties. The variety ‘Stellar Pink’ has profuse, large, overlapping, blush pink floral bracts. Its dense branching habit provides layers of lush green foliage from bottom to top. This is a vigorous cultivar with an erect habit. The Rutgers hybrids are sterile and thus, do not set fruit.

 

MAGNOLIA

Magnolia ‘Ricki’

Nothing says spring in Boston like the Magnolias that line Commonwealth Avenue. Whether you choose a Saucer-type Magnolia like those on Comm Ave or a Star Magnolia with its multi petaled flowers, you will enjoy a spring show like no other. Some varieties grow in tree form, others as multi-trunked shrubs. All display fat, fuzzy buds through the winter, offering promise of the spring to come. They are best sited in a protected location to avoid a late frost which might damage emerging flowers. No matter what type of Magnolia you choose, it will add a natural grace in the garden.

Magnolia stellata (the Star Magnolia) is distinguished by its showy, fragrant white flowers that have a pink tinge. Each flower has 12 to 18 petals. Seeing them dance in the wind is a delight. The variety that most closely resembles the classic Saucer Magnolia is Magnolia ‘Jane’ with its 8 inch cup shaped flowers. It blooms slightly later than the classic Saucer Magnolia, thereby reducing the possibility of late season frost damage. Flowers bloom sporadically during the summer, extending its season of beauty. Other varieties to consider include ‘Leonard Messel’, ‘Ann’, ‘Butterflies’ ‘, Elizabeth’ and ‘Ricki’.

 

FLOWERING CRABAPPLE

Left: ‘Donald Wyman’, Right: ‘Prairiefire’

MALUS

Flowering Crabapples are beautiful contributors to the landscape in all four seasons of the year. In spring, they offer delicate colors in their emerging leaves and flower buds. While unopened flower buds may hint of one color, other hues are revealed as the flowers open. As flowers fade, the rich foliage offers another subtle contribution to the landscape. Then, as leaves drop in the late autumn, the colorful fruit takes center stage. And with a dusting of snow to accent the fruit and the sculptural qualities of the tree branches, it presents an unrivaled winter picture. Today’s varieties are disease-resistant and easy to grow. Varieties to consider include ‘Camelot’, ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Prairiefire’ and ‘Royal Raindrops’.

 

FLOWERING CHERRY

Kwanzan Cherry

PRUNUS

Available in upright tree form and weeping varieties, flowering Cherries are some of the loveliest spring flowering trees. Iconic images of the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC come to mind when we think of flowering Cherries. Prunus x yedoensis, commonly called Yoshino Cherry, has fragrant flower clusters that emerge pale pink and fade to white, creating a profuse and spectacular early spring show. This hybrid Cherry comes from Japan and is the predominant Cherry tree planted in Washington D.C, enjoyed during the Cherry Blossom Festival each year.

Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ has particularly pretty, double-pink blossoms which are especially long lasting. It blooms a couple of weeks later than the Yoshino Cherry. Its upright, vase-shaped branching habit makes it a lovely specimen. In addition to these upright growing varieties, flowering Cherries are available in a beautiful weeping form. Look for the weeping Higan Cherry and the weeping Snow Fountain Cherry to add a sense of elegance to the garden.

 

FLOWERING PLUM

Plum ‘Thundercloud’

Prunus cerasifera

Modern cultivars of this tree offer a color palette that set them apart from other trees in the ornamental landscape. The varieties ‘Thundercloud’ (pictured above) and ‘Krauter Vesuvius’ both have a profusion of flowers that blanket the stems in spring and have showy purple toned foliage that retains its color throughout the growing season.

 

FLOWERING PEAR

Pear ‘Chanticleer’

Pyrus calleryana

Flowering pear trees have an attractive narrow and symmetrical pyramidal shape which makes them well suited for smaller sites. Pears offer profuse creamy white blooms in early spring, glossy dark green leaves that dance in the wind, and fall color that ranges from reddish-purple to bronze-red. Consider flowering pear varieties like ‘Chanticleer’ (pictured above), ‘New Bradford’, ‘Cleveland Select’, and ‘Redspire’.

A BEGINNERS GUIDE: FRUIT TREE CARE

GENERAL CARE

When choosing a spot to start your home orchard, it is important to consider three factors – sunshine, soil and spacing.

SUNSHINE

Sunshine made John Denver happy. It will also make your fruit tree happy. Plant your tree in an location which receives at least a half day of sun. Sunlight helps the tree to produce a prolific crop of fruit. Do not plant your tree in an area of full shade.

SOIL

Fruit trees prefer well-drained, fertile soils. Most soils drain well enough to keep your trees happy. But if you have a high clay content, work in 1/3 peat to the soil at planting time. This will help increase the drainage for your tree. Full clay soils and poorly drained locations need to be avoided. Fruit trees will not thrive in wet, poorly drained, low spots in your yard. If your soil is very heavy and poorly drained, you can build a mound or berm with trucked-in topsoil to plant your tree or trees on top of.

SPACING

All of our trees are dwarf or semi-dwarf trees, selected to optimize the use of space and to produce good crops of fruit. Trees should be planted about 12-14′ from each other. If you plant more than one row, the rows should be separated by 18-20′. This will allow plenty of space for the tree to thrive. This space gives the sun the opportunity to shine down on the tree. It also provides good air ventilation, which helps reduce diseases on your tree.

One last consideration; be sure to consider your future plans when siting your orchard. Allow for room to add more trees. Once you get starting growing fruit at home, you will want to add new fruits to increase the variety of your harvest.

POLLINATION

Fruit results from the pollination of blossoms. Some trees can set an abundant crop with their own pollen, so they are called self-pollinating. Other trees need pollen from another variety. This cross-pollination is usually done by bees. Some neighborhoods have enough fruit trees to assure plenty of cross-pollination, but you should plant your own “pollination partners” just to be sure. If a variety is not self-pollinating, two trees of the same variety will not cross-pollinate each other.

Generally speaking, most apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries require a pollinator, although there are a few self-pollinating varieties in each of those fruit types. Peaches, nectarines, tart cherries and apricots are almost always self-pollinating.

Look under the various fruit types for detailed guidance on appropriate pollinators for your apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries. And remember, apples can’t pollinate pears, and pears can’t pollinate plums. Pollinators must be from the same fruit type – cats and dogs don’t breed.

PRUNING

We cannot stress enough the importance of regular, annual, aggressive pruning. It is essential to maintain the ongoing vigor of the tree and to maximize the production of fruit.

First year pruning sets the eventual shape of the tree. If your tree is taller than 4-6′ above ground, after it’s planted, trim it down to that height. Thin out the inward growing branches and any branches which are crossing over each other. Trim off the tips of the larger branches to encourage growth. See the illustration below for a before and after look at the branches.

Any shoots or branches which come from BELOW the “bud union” should always be pruned – now and in the future. Brand new stems that grow out of the ground, from the root systems are called suckers. If you see them, simply cut them off at ground level. When the tree matures, suckering usually diminishes.

If your trees set fruit this first year, pick off some of the immature fruits, spacing them about 8″ apart on the branches. This will encourage proper ripening, allow the spray to cover well, and improve vegetative vigor. Fruit thinning in the future is also important for the very same reasons. Less is more. If you don’t thin, you will get many more fruits than the tree can handle, resulting in broken branches and small fruits. So don’t be afraid to thin. The resulting fruits will be fuller and much nicer.

In later years, it is helpful to “shape” your tree. Apple, pear and cherry trees are best trained to a central leader (uppermost upright limb). Peach, nectarine, plum and apricot trees should be trained to a vase shape (no central leader). See the drawings below which show what your mature tree should look like. As you prune, bear this shape in mind and prune accordingly. Don’t be shy; it’s really hard to overprune a fruit tree.

Young Fruit Tree Forms, Before and After Pruning:

prune-1

Mature Tree Forms:

prune-2

WHEN TO PRUNE

APPLES AND PEARS

It is generally best to prune apples and pears when they are dormant. So pick a nice pleasant, sunny winter day and enjoy this part of orcharding. Summer pruning is helpful to retard growth of the tree. So if the tree is growing very aggressively and getting taller than you like, take it back in July to control this growth.

CHERRIES

It is generally best to prune cherry trees when the weather is hot. Do not prune in the winter or late fall or early spring. Bacterial diseases are present in all non-arid environments and are particularly detrimental to sweet cherries. These bacteria are most active in cool, wet weather. So wait until the tree has leafed out and the warm late spring weather patterns are well established – usually by the end of May – to prune your cherry trees.

PEACHES, NECTARINES AND APRICOTS

The best time to prune peaches, nectarines and apricots is in the early spring. Try pruning after the last frost date for your area. At this time, most of the winter damage can be trimmed off and you will minimize the effect of late frost damage to your buds and blooms.

PLUMS

As plums are very vigorous growers, you will want to prune aggressively. Bear in mind that summer pruning, when the trees is still growing, will help contain the spreading nature of your plum tree. You cannot over-prune a plum tree. So do clean up pruning in the winter, to get rid of broken and dead branches and shape up the tree. Then in July, prune again to maintain a manageable size.

Reference: Hollybrook Orchards

Visit hollybrookorchards.com for specific varieties or more information.

Video Look: Sprucing Up for Spring

Looking for some inspiration to dress up the house this weekend? See how Julia spruced up the front of our Winchester store with our locally-grown, cold-tolerant spring bulbs and pansies.

HOW TO START SEEDS INDOORS

Few gardening pursuits are as rewarding as growing your flowers and vegetables from seed. For centuries, New England gardeners and farmers alike have embarked on their labor of love early on the season. The goal: to sow their seeds indoors while patiently awaiting the arrival of warm weather.

Our friends at Botanical Interests Seeds have helped us provide some indoor seed starting basics. We love the Botanical Interests seed collection. You’ll find hundreds of Non-GMO and USDA certified organic varieties.

 

Carefully tending to your plants from the beginning invokes a sense of wonder in gardeners of all ages. This is especially true in New England, as our growing season is short. Other than cool-season crops, you’ll want to wait until after the “Average Last Frost Date” to sow outside. The Farmer’s Almanac lists that as May 4th in Boston, but this is just an average, and it varies by town. Starting from seed allows you to get a jump-start on varieties that you may otherwise have to wait until May to find in the garden center. Different seed varieties require different numbers of days to sprout and grow. All Botanical Interests seed packets are labeled with their germination time. Use this information to help you find the perfect time to sow, relative to the last frost.

The other advantage of starting from seed is finding a selection that you may not otherwise find in started plants. Depending on which Mahoney’s you visit, you’ll find up to 500 seed varieties to choose from – this is especially exciting if you are looking for heirloom and hard-to-find vegetable varieties!

Perhaps the most compelling reason is that seed starting provides a wonderful sense of accomplishment – especially for kids. It connects you to nature, and makes you appreciate, and control where your food really comes from. We say it’s hard to explain – you just have to experience it!

GETTING STARTED

We should mention that many plants should be started from seed outdoors. Radishes, spinaches and carrots, for example, grow so fast that it is much easier to sow directly outdoors. There are other veggies such as salad greens that are fussy about being transplanted so planting directly into the garden produces better results. That said, let’s dig into seed starting indoors.

INDOOR SOWING GUIDE

 

CHOOSE YOUR CONTAINER

Most people buy our seed-starting flats because they maximize plants per square inch, but no one says you have to go that route; you can use anything from cut-down milk cartons to elegant glazed pottery. As long as the container is not too shallow, and you have proper drainage, the plants don’t really care. Go with what you like to look at. We carry many biodegradable fiber pots and seed trays, perfect for growing! Note: If you do reuse a container, make sure to clean and sanitize first.

LIGHTEN UP

Seeds need light – lots of it! When starting your seeds indoors, place in a south-facing sunny window. If you don’t think you’ll have enough sun, stop in and talk to us for tips on artificial lighting! There are ways to use your own lighting at home to help your seedlings along!

PLANTING MIXES

If you search online you’ll find a lot of conflicting information about what’s the “best” planting soil to use. We sell several – from our organic professional potting mix to an organic seed starting media by Espoma. They’ll all work great – just remember that regular outdoor garden soil is definitely not OK. Seeds need the right amount of moisture, warmth and air to germinate. Regular garden soil is too dense and will drown the seeds and eliminate much-needed oxygen and create an environment ripe for pests and disease.

name your plants

When they’re very young a lot of seedlings look pretty much the same, so do yourself a favor and label the plants as soon as you get started. While you are at it, mark down when you first planted the seeds. Trust us, you’ll find this really helpful.

keep it cozy

Seeds need warmth – most will germinate at temperatures around 75ºF, but eggplants, peppers, and other warm-season plants like it even warmer. Again it’s good to read package instructions carefully. Once the seeds germinate, room temperatures of 70º–75º will keep most seedlings happy.

a word about water

Water the containers as needed to keep them evenly moist but not sopping wet. Misting using a spray bottle, or bottom watering (adding water to the drainage tray) are great ways to keep planting mix moist without disturbing seeds and young seedlings. Covering your containers with a clear lid or clear plastic wrap also helps increase humidity during germination. After your seedlings emerge, remove the cover.

count down

Once your seedlings have grown enough to transplant to their ultimate spot (either in the ground or in a container) it’s time to prepare your babies to withstand outdoor conditions. It called “Hardening off.” Start by placing your seedlings outdoors in a protected, shady area. Over the next 7 to 10 days, move them more and more into direct sun (for sun-loving varieties). But remember your seedling are still very “tender” – be sure to bring them in at night if temperatures drop below 45°F. Then congratulations – you’re ready to plant.

Pollinators

Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies pollinate a third or more of the food we eat. You can help simply by choosing seeds that create habitats that protect and feed pollinators. And while you’re thinking of this, plant a diversity of colors, bloom times, and heights – it will provide a better environment, and it will be prettier for you, too.

a final thought

Before you start, take a minute to appreciate the seed. They come in all sizes – some as fine as powder – but each is a remarkable living thing with a protective outer coat, an embryo, stored nutrients, and a genetic blueprint for its development. When you stop to think, it’s really quite miraculous that a tiny seed will grow into a big, beautiful plant, in just one season!

Valentine’s Day in the Florist

We’re ready! Stop into our full-service florists at Mahoney’s Winchester and Tewksbury for beautiful blooms for your Valentine! Let us help you pull together fresh bouquets, or browse from our ready-made assortment of roses, tulips and mixed flowers. Find grab-and-go beautiful vase arrangements and potted arrangements too ❤️