Pacific Northwest

May, 2008
Regional Report

Divide Hostas

When new foliage just begins to emerge, dig and divide overgrown hosta clumps. For quickest recovery, each new division should have at least two leaves attached to a mass of roots. Replant the divisions after amending the soil with moisture-retentive compost or other organic matter.

Make Inexpensive Plant Markers

I've tried marking my bulbs with stick markers only to have them fall over and wash away. Now I use an inexpensive method that never fails. I save plastic forks and spoons from fast-food restaurants and write on the handles with a permanent marker. I bury the spoon or fork head in the soil and leave the handles above ground as markers; the heads anchor the utensils in the ground and they stay put for two to three years.

Combat Spittlebugs

Spittlebugs are the nymph stage of the froghopper insect. They are so small they're hard to see, but you can tell spittlebugs are feeding on plants by the bubbly white froth they produce. To get rid of spittlebugs, wash them off plants with a strong stream of water.

Clean Pruning Saws

Using a pruning saw on green wood often clogs the teeth with sap and sawdust. The accumulated debris can interfere with cutting and trap moisture next to the steel, promoting rust. To remove the gunk I don old gloves and smear a gob of solid vegetable shortening over the blade. After a minute or two the shortening dissolves the sap and I wipe the blade clean with a paper towel.

Set Out Convenient Weed Receptacles

When I walk around my garden and see a weed, I just have to pull it. Before I finish my tour, I usually end up with a handful of weeds. Where to toss them? Walking to the compost pile requires a big detour. Dropping them on the ground to await a return trip is unsightly. My solution is to place empty terra cotta pots among my plants to serve as temporary weed bins. I empty the pots as needed, replacing them in convenient, yet nearly hidden spots throughout the garden.

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