Pacific Northwest

February, 2007
Regional Report

Don't Fret About Precocious Bulbs

Hardy spring bulbs march to their own music, sending up shoots when weather seems much too cold to us. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots and blooming crocuses when a cold snap hits, but if mulch remains around them, they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well, stopping their growth during cold spells and reviving during warmth. The only action you need to take if a serious freeze is predicted is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any shoots that are exposed.

Grow New Veggie Varieties

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.

Propagate Houseplants

Propagate split-leaf philodendrons and other leggy indoor plants by air layering. Here's how: Make a slanting cut about 1/4 of the way through the stem with a sharp knife. Insert a toothpick to keep the wound from healing over. Dust the wound with rooting hormone powder. Wrap the wounded area with moist sphagnum moss and cover it with plastic to keep the rooting medium from drying out. When roots form, cut the new plant off and pot it up.

Avoid 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 trunks, and keeping mulch materials a few inches away from trunks.

Cultivate a Windowsill Garden

When cold, wet weather keeps your kids inside, try growing a windowsill garden. All you need is a sunny spot and a few containers of soil. Herbs are an excellent choice for windowsills. A more complicated project is building a 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.

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