Pacific Northwest

March, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Onion Seeds

Start onions indoors from seed now and set them in a sunny spot. Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep and cover them lightly with vermiculite or sand. Keep the soil temperature at about 70F. Once the seeds germinate, place the trays under grow lights, thin seedlings to 1-2 inches apart, and keep the plants watered and fed. Keep the plants trimmed to 3 inches tall and set them out in the garden in late April.

Add Wood Ashes

Adding wood ashes to your garden can help reduce soil acidity, but it's always a good idea to test your soil first so you'll know how much to apply. Wood ashes not only add potassium to the soil but also raise the pH. Don't apply ashes to your garden if your soil pH is already 7.0 or more. In general, use 1/2 to 1 pound of wood ash per year mulched around shrubs and roses, 10-15 pounds per 1,000 square feet spread on the lawn, and 10-30 pounds per 1,000 square feet turned into vegetable and flower gardens.

Take Geranium Cuttings

If you're overwintering your geraniums indoors, they're probably getting tall and leggy due to the reduced light. Now is a good time to cut them back to about a foot tall. Save a few 4- to 6-inch pieces to root by dipping the cut end in rooting hormone and then placing them in a pot filled with peat moss and sand. Keep the pot out of direct light while the cuttings take root, which should be in a few weeks. When new growth appears, you'll know your cuttings have rooted.

Weed Out Bittercress

The best control for little bittercress, one of the earliest weeds to start growing in spring, is to go on daily patrols, removing the small whorls of leaves before the plant has a chance to produce a flowering stem. If allowed to flower, the plant forms seeds that are literally catapulted from the pods the minute it's touched.

Check Houseplants for Spider Mites

Spider mites can become quite a problem on houseplants during the winter months. These tiny insects are very hard to see, often going undetected until their population explodes and you begin to see their webs on the plants. To control them, spray insecticidal soap 2 or 3 times a week and mist plants with water from time to time.

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