Western Mountains and High Plains

February, 2006
Regional Report

Inspect the Water Garden

If you have a water garden, check it, especially if you're overwintering fish in it. If the water is frozen, open a hole in the ice to provide oxygen to the fish in the deepest part of the pond. Insert a log through the ice to open a channel for air exchange. You can also use a pond heater to keep the water from freezing solid.

Getting Ready to Start Seeds

Make preparations to start seeds indoors. Gather containers, seed trays, pots, drainage saucers, and seed-starting soil. Disinfect the containers by washing them in a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution. Rinse them with warm water and allow them to dry.

Start Cool-Season Veggies

Start seeds of cold-tolerant vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, and onions indoors now to get a head start on the season. Cool-season crops can be ready for transplanting outdoors 4 weeks before the average date of the last frost in your area, which can be as early as April in some locations.

Control Fungus Gnats

If you notice small black flies around your indoor potted plants, they're probably fungus gnats. To get rid of them, use the biological control Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), taking care to find a product that's specific to killing gungus gnat larvae. Drench the soil of plants that are infested and repeat if necessary.

Use Sand on Ice

To melt ice near gardens and lawns without using ice-melting salts, spread a layer of sand or non-clumping cat litter on icy sidewalks and pathways. This will prevent salt runoff into the garden beds and the lawn, where it can accumulate and harm the plants.

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