Pacific Northwest

February, 2008
Regional Report

Windowsill Gardening for Kids

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

Dealing with Precocious Bulbs

Hardy spring bulbs march to their own musing, sending up shoots when weather seems much too cold. 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.

Caring for Indoor Geraniums

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 and root them by dipping the cut ends 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.

Start Tomato Seeds Indoors

Sow tomato seeds indoors now so they'll be ready to transplant outdoors as soon as the soil warms. Start with clean seed-starting trays and moistened seed-starting mix and make rows of furrows about an inch apart and quarter-inch deep across the top of the mix. Sprinkle seeds into the furrows, spacing them about a half-inch apart. Barely cover seeds with additional potting soil, then cover the trays with plastic wrap. Place your trays in a warm location until seeds germinate. Remove the plastic wrap and place the trays under a source of artificial light.

Plant Peas

Plant garden peas now if soil is well drained and workable. Some good varieties for our area include 'Oregon Sugar Pod II', 'Knight', 'Oregon Trail', 'Snappy', 'Green Arrow', and 'Corvallis'. If mosaic virus disease commonly attacks your peas, look for resistant varieties and plant them in different garden spots each year.

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