Pacific Northwest

July, 2004
Regional Report

Vacation Container Care

If you're going on vacation and are concerned about your container plants, here are some ways to keep them healthy while you're gone. Water containers thoroughly before leaving and move them into a shady location where they won't dry out as fast. Place smaller containers in basins with a few inches of water that will slowly be absorbed by the plants while you're gone.

Remove Suckers and Water Sprouts

Prune suckers and water sprouts from fruit trees. Suckers grow from the base of the tree. Water sprouts are upright shoots that form on main branches. Both types of growth sap energy from the plant. Pruning them off now keeps them from coming back as prolifically next spring.

Revitalize Strawberry Beds

Renovate older June-bearing strawberry plantings after the harvest is finished. To avoid injuring the crowns, set your lawn mower as high as possible and mow over the beds. Rake up all debris, till under all but an 8 to 10 inch diameter row in the middle, and thin the remaining plants to 6 inches apart.

Feed Roses

Fertilize roses just after their first flush of blooms. Side-dress plants with compost, composted manure, or another organic fertilizer. If using synthetic fertilizer, use amounts as recommended on the package, working it lightly into the soil. Cut roses just above first five-leaflet leaf to encourage more blooms to form.

Check for Insects

Visit your garden once a day to catch insect damage before it gets severe. Look for ragged leaves from chewing, eggs laid on the back side of leaves, slime tails of slugs, pellets of caterpillar fecal material in plant crowns, and stippling on the leaves. The sooner you discover the damage, the quicker you can control it, and lessen the loss.

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