Pacific Northwest

October, 2004
Regional Report

Select Healthy Bulbs

When purchasing bulbs, select those that are plump, firm and blemish-free. Many varieties have skins like onions that are partially or completely removed. This will not affect their quality as long as the bulb is solid and free of soft spots. If you cannot plant bulbs within a day or two of purchasing, store them in a cool (40 to 50 degrees F.) and dry location in mesh bags or ventilated containers.

Control Houseplant Pests

Now that you've moved your houseplants back indoors and they have had time to adjust to lower light levels and warmer temperatures, it's time to look them over for insect pests. If tiny black fungus gnats are flitting about, you can use a homemade remedy to get rid of them. Place a glass filled with a 1/4 inch of vinegar near your houseplants. The tiny, black flies will be attracted to the liquid, crawl in, and drown.

Make Lasagna Compost

Instead of bagging fallen leaves and sending them to the landfill, add them to your compost pile. In the compost bin, make a 2-inch layer of leaves, then add a 1-inch layer of soil. Continue this process to make what we call a "lasagna" compost pile. Keep the pile moist and turn it every few weeks to speed decomposition.

Turn Soil

At the end of the growing season, it's a good idea to spade or till your annual flower and vegetable beds. The rough, lumpy clods you turn up will expose many harmful insects and their eggs. Winter weather also will help to pry apart clay particles, leaving the soil softer for spring planting. If you have a source of cow or horse manure, add a generous amount (3 to 4 inches deep) to the beds before turning.

Force Spring-Blooming Bulbs

If you have leftover spring-flowering bulbs, plant a few tulips or daffodils in clay pots for winter blooms. Set the potted bulbs in an unheated garage or a cold frame for a cold treatment. Water the soil as needed. In early January or when green shoots appear, you can bring the pots indoors. In a few weeks you'll be rewarded with springtime blooms even though it's still officially winter.

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