Pacific Northwest

December, 2006
Regional Report

Welcome Eight-Legged Insecticides

House spiders make quick work of houseplant pests. Whenever I find a spider indoors, I pick it up carefully by sliding a stiff piece of paper beneath it, and take it to a group of houseplants. Spiders have no interest in me, but they love to feed on the insects and other pests that plague plants. I think they work just as well as chemical sprays. When the spiders move along, you can be sure your plants are pest-free.

Keep Your Old Calendars

In my current calendar I write down on a weekly basis what I did of note in the garden and what I should do next year to improve things. Every New Year's Day I transfer what needs to be done in the new year onto the appropriate page of the new calendar. I don't toss out the old calendar. Instead, I keep it so that I will have an accurate running record of things I've done in the garden.

Separating Rooted Cuttings

I propagate many plants by rooting cuttings in a potting mix. I usually have five or six going at a time in the same container. Frequently the roots of the cuttings fill the potting mix, making it difficult to separate them at planting time. I've found that if I shake free the excess soil and then place the cuttings into a bowl of water, most of the tangled roots float apart. Those roots that remain tangled can be pulled free with very little damage.

Don't Worry About Premature Bulb Growth

Hardy spring bulbs sometimes send up new shoots in the middle of winter, when the weather seems much too cold. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots or blooming crocuses when snow is predicted, but they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well on their own, stopping growth during cold spells and resuming when it warms up again. The only help you can offer is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any exposed shoots if snow is predicted.

Protect Container Plants

An easy way to protect the roots of outdoor container plants through winter is to sink the pots into the ground to the top of the lip. Another method is to place the pots inside larger pots and then fill the void between the pots with dry potting soil. The air space between the pots will help maintain a suitable temperature for the roots.

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