Pacific Northwest

January, 2008
Regional Report

Consider Edible and Ornamental Blueberries

As you plan for this year's garden, consider planting blueberries. They are among the easiest of fruiting plants to grow, they make attractive shrubs, and they live many years, producing lots of tasty, nutritious berries. You can time your harvests by planting early, mid-, or late-season varieties. You'll need at least two different varieties for cross-pollination and best fruit set.

Eliminate Chickweed

Chickweed flourishes during the winter months. To prevent this small-leaved, ground-hugging weed from taking over beds and borders, check the garden regularly and hand pull any you find. Keeping up with this weed throughout the winter will make spring chores much easier. Spreading an organic pre-emergent herbicide, such as corn gluten, over garden areas will continue to keep weeds at bay.

Control Fungus Gnats

If you've had trouble with fungus gnats (small black flies that emerge from potting soil in indoor plants), try topping the potting soil with a decorative layer of gravel. The gravel prevents the gnats from laying their eggs in the moist potting soil, so the population of adult flies will eventually be reduced.

Test Leftover Seed

If you've saved seed packets from last year, test them for germination before wasting time and space. Place ten or so seeds between the folds of a moist paper towel and place it on a kitchen counter. Keep the seeds moist and check daily. If less than six seeds germinate after a week, germination is poor, and you're better off discarding the packet and purchasing fresh seed for planting this year.

Sow Annual Flowers Indoors

It's time to sow annual flower seeds indoors, such as impatiens, begonias, and geraniums. Since these seeds are very small, mix them with sand to make it easier to sow them more evenly. Use sterile seed-starting mix, cover the seeds very lightly with milled sphagnum moss, and keep them covered with a plastic top or plastic wrap until they germinate.

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