Pacific Northwest

July, 2007
Regional Report

Renovate Hydrangeas

When hydrangea blooms begin to fade from sky blue to a grayish lavender, it's time to cut them back and reshape the shrub. Bigleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) bloom on new stems that grow from old wood, so prune back only the shoots that have produced flowers. To reduce the height of the shrub, cut some of the older wood back, leaving a few buds on each stem. Next year's flowering shoots will develop from these buds.

Turn the Compost Pile

Turning the compost pile every few weeks will help speed up the decomposition process. If the pile is small, it's easy to move the warm center of the pile to the edges. If the pile is large, try removing the material from the center and placing it aside. Pile what was around the edges into a heap in the center where it will heat up, then line the newly created heap with the material you set aside.

Encourage Frogs

Encourage all types of critters to live in your yard and gardens. Frogs and toads eat cutworms and other insect pests. Place inverted clay pots in shady garden spots, and chip out a piece of the pot rim to give them an entrance to their new home.

Harvest Early and Late

The time of day vegetables are harvested makes a difference in their flavor. For the highest sweetness, pick peas and sweet corn late in the day when sugar content is high. Other vegetables, such as lettuce and cucumbers, are crisper and tastier when harvested early in the morning.

Lightly Prune Trees

You can lightly prune trees to remove dead, diseased, crossing, or broken branches during the summer months, but don't get carried away. Heavy pruning in summer can expose previously shaded leaves and bark to the harsh sun, resulting in sunscald and damage to the tree trunk.

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