Pacific Northwest

August, 2004
Regional Report

Prevent Cucumber Bitterness

Cucumbers develop a bitter taste if the soil is not kept consistently moist. Harvest cucumbers for pickling whole when they are 2 to 4 inches long. Harvest for table use when they're longer than 5 inches. Remove any overripe cucumbers to encourage a continuous production.

Build a Wasp Trap

Although wasps are beneficial in the garden, they can be real pests at picnics. Here's a wasp trap to build: Use an old jar with a screw top lid; drill a half-inch hole in the center of the lid and two smaller holes near the edges for string to hang the trap. A 3-foot-long piece of yarn or string poked through the outside and knotted on the inside of the lid makes a good hanger. Bait the trap with raw hamburger, screw the top on tightly, and hang it from a tree branch at least 20 feet away from your picnic site. The hole in the top allows insects to enter, but it's difficult for them to escape.

Leach Salt from Pots

Mineral salts can build up in the soil of potted plants, inhibiting root growth and leaving white, crusty deposits on container sides. Occasionally leach the soil by soaking the pots until the soil is completely saturated, then allowing fresh water to run through the soil for several minutes to flush out the salts.

Replace Spent Annuals

When marigolds, nicotiana, impatiens, and other summer annuals stop blooming, remove them and mulch the area to discourage weeds. Amend the soil with compost and sow seeds of colorful, cool-season annuals, such as pansies, lobelia, and winter kale.

Control Insects and Diseases

Employ cultural practices to keep insect and disease problems from escalating. Pull weeds and pinch back plants to improve air circulation. Allow foliage to dry out by evening so diseases are less likely to start. Handpick insects and avoid chemical sprays whenever possible since they kill beneficial insects as well as destructive pests.

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