Inland Northwest, High Desert

May, 2004
Regional Report

Watch the Lawn for Signs of Thirst

Water the lawn when you leave footprints. A thirsty lawn will show your footprints an hour after you've trekked across. Water, too, when the color changes from green to bluish gray.

Avoid Ashes in the Garden

Gramps probably told you fireplace ashes are good for the garden. Not in these parts. While wood ashes have a goodly amount of potassium, they also contain way too much lime. Our soil already rings the bell in the high pH range. More lime will just make it worse.

Protect Against Boring Insects

If your roses (or berries) got boring visitors last year, the odds are good that they'll be back. Rose and berry borers like freshly cut canes -- all the better to drill into that tender end to make a nest for their young. Thwart them with a dab of Elmer's glue on the cut ends.

Don't Answer the Door to West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes carry West Nile virus. Mosquitoes need standing water to reproduce. Eliminate all water from pot saucers, clogged gutters, garden ornaments, and anything else that holds a couple of tablespoons of water. Keep the birdbath. Float a Mosquito Dunk -- a cake of Bacillus thuringiensis var. Israeliensis (Bti) in the water. While harmless to all other life forms (except larvae) Bt paralyzes mosquito larvae so they can't feed and eventually die.

Mulch, Mulch, Mulch

Spread mulch at least 2 inches thick to keep out weed seeds, conserve water, and moderate soil temperatures. Choose an organic mulch, such as bark chips (soak them well when you lay them down and they won't blow away in our spring breezes). It will break down and add nutrients to the soil, too.

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