Pacific Northwest

January, 2007
Regional Report

Start Seeds

Sow seeds of cold-tolerant flowers, such as pansies, delphiniums, and columbines, in flats or pots and place them in a cold frame. When they've developed three sets of true leaves, they'll be ready to plant in the garden. Harden them off by taking them out of the cold frame during the day and putting them back in at night. After a week of this treatment, they'll be ready to spend their nights outdoors.

Plant Roses

To plant bare-root roses, first prepare the soil by adding composted manure and working it in well. Inspect the roots and prune off any that are dead or damaged. Plant so that the graft union is 1 to 2 inches above the soil line. Keep plants well watered, especially when new growth begins.

Check Soil for Planting

To determine whether your soil is dry enough to plant, do the squeeze test on a handful of soil. If the soil stays in a ball when squeezed, it's too wet to cultivate. If it crumbles in your hand, you can till the soil, add amendments, and start planting crops such as garden peas and sweet peas in a sunny site.

Rotate Houseplants

Houseplants reach for the light when levels are low, and during winter months they can become lopsided. To keep your plants from leaning, rotate them a quarter turn every two weeks or supplement the natural light with grow lights until spring when the sun is higher and stronger.

Making Your Own Soil

You can purchase pasteurized potting soil to start seedlings indoors or make your own custom blend. My recipe includes 1/2 bushel sphagnum peat moss, 1/4 bushel vermiculite, 1/4 bushel perlite, 8 teaspoons ground dolomitic lime, 2 teaspoons superphosphate, 3 teaspoons 10-10-10 fertilizer, 1 teaspoon iron sulfate, and 1 teaspoon potassium nitrate. Thoroughly mix, then store in a dry place.

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