Pacific Northwest

January, 2007
Regional Report

Keep Off the Grass

Soils are apt to remain saturated for the next few weeks. Walking on soggy soils will drive out spaces between the mineral particles and result in serious compaction. Do your lawn a favor by keeping off the grass; instead of taking a shortcut across the yard, stay on sidewalks, driveways, and firm garden paths whenever possible.

Control Houseplant Pests

If you find small black flies around your indoor potted plants, they might be fungus gnats. These little pests dwell in moist potting soil and feed on decaying organic matter. You can discourage them by placing a temporary foil or plastic wrap barrier over the top of the potting soil. There are also commercial products containing a special strain of the biological control Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Be sure the product is labeled for fungus gnats and carefully follow label directions.

Clean Bird Feeders

Keep our feathered friends healthy and happy all winter long by providing fresh water and keeping the feeders stocked with fresh seed. Birds in our area are especially fond of black oil sunflower seed. Clean the feeders every few weeks to prevent the spread of disease. I wash mine in hot, soapy water, then rinse in a 10 percent bleach solution before rinsing again in fresh water. Refill after allowing the feeders to air dry.

Recycle Packing Material

Styrofoam packing peanuts can be recycled. Seal them in plastic bags and place the bags in the bottom third of a deep planter before adding soil. Don't mix them with the potting soil or dump them in without sealing in bags or they'll float to the top.

Apply Horticultural Oils

Horticultural oils (sometimes called dormant oils) suffocate insects and larvae that are overwintering on the bark of dormant trees and shrubs. Apply them on a calm day when temperatures are above 40 degreees F. Be sure to cover all surfaces of the plant with the spray, from ground level to the tips of the branches.

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