Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2004
Regional Report

Reduce the Gnat Invasion

To prevent an invasion of nuisance fungus gnats around your houseplants, cut back on watering. These tiny, black flies seem to build up in wet potting soils and underneath plant debris. Good sanitation practices can help to reduce gnat populations. With shorter days in winter, most houseplants don't need as much water as they did during the summer.

Send For Seed and Plant Catalogs

Now is the time to get a supply of catalogs to have handy for the cold, dreary days of winter. They make for some great fireside reading and spur your imagination for the next garden season. Look for regional nurseries and seed suppliers that offer varieties particularly suited to our growing areas.

Purge Drip Irrigation Systems

To help reduce the buildup of salts, minerals, and sediment and avoid cracked tubing, flush drip systems before the soil freezes. Remove end caps from the main lines, turn the water on for 5 to 10 minutes, then shut it off. Make sure all the water has drained out, and then replace the end caps. Above-ground ooze systems will last longer if drained and stored in the garden shed, garage, or basement.

Protect Tree Bark From Critters

Clean away tall vegetation from around tree trunks so rabbits, gophers, mice, and voles can't hide there and gnaw on the bark. Wrap trunks with a 2-foot, wire-mesh collar sunk a few inches below the soil surface. Form the collar loose enough so the wrap won't touch the bark.

Store Seeds Properly

Seeds collected from this year\'s garden should be stored properly to ensure their viability for next spring. Use an airtight container, such as a wide-mouth canning jar or plastic container with a self-sealing lid. Keep the stored seed in a cool location. Do not expose seeds to moisture or heat, as this will reduce their life span.

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