Pacific Northwest

January, 2006
Regional Report

Guard Against Critter Damage

Watch for field mice damage on lower trunks of trees and shrubs, and avoid additional damage by controlling weeds to remove hiding places, reinforcing any wire caging or plastic tree wraps placed around the trunk, and keeping mulch materials a few inches away from trunks.

Add New Varieties to Your Veggie Garden

When planning next year's vegetable garden, try something you've never planted before. You may find a new favorite. This year I'm stretching my vegetable palette by growing collards, shallots, popcorn, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), and tatsoi (flat cabbage) for a change of pace.

Recycle Christmas Trees

Recycle Christmas trees by putting them in the yard and decorating them with peanut butter-stuffed pine cones or garlands of cranberries. The birds will love the food source. You can get extra mileage from the tree if you plant sweet peas or morning glory seeds beneath it when the weather warms. By mid-spring the tree will be draped in color.

Decorate Windowsills With Plants

When cold, wet weather keeps you inside, try cultivating a windowsill garden. All you need is a sunny spot and a few containers of potting soil. Herbs are an excellent choice for windowsills. Create a mini terrarium by carefully placing some moistened potting soil and a few plants (with roots) inside a clean mayonnaise jar. Cover the opening with clear plastic wrap.

Force Branches Into Early Bloom

Cut 1-foot-long branches of quince, forsythia, and flowering cherry to force into early bloom indoors. Place the branches in a vase of warm water, and change the water weekly. Keep the branches in bright but indirect light, and in a few weeks they'll be blooming.

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