Northern & Central Midwest

July, 2008
Regional Report

Prepare Plants for Your Vacation

Set a dish rack upside down in the bathtub and place plants on top without saucers. Poke a cotton shoelace into the soil through a drainage hole and dangle the other end in the tub filled with a few inches of water. The lace works as a wick, drawing water up into the soil.

Transplant Oriental Poppies

Although Oriental poppies don't like to be moved, if you must, dig and divide them as their foliage yellows and dries. Replant in sunny, well-drained areas, and since they fade out by midsummer, plant annuals or later-blooming perennials in front of them to conceal their unattractive yellowing foliage.

Keep Mosquitos at Bay

Wear long sleeves and long pants that are light colored. Avoid perfumes and lotions, and minimize time outdoors after dusk or before dawn. Keep drains and culverts clear so water drains readily; empty standing water from pots, birdbaths, pet dishes, and wading pools. Use a strong fan to blow mosquitoes away from your outdoor dining table.

Harvest Herbs

Rinse herbs with the hose the day before picking to remove dirt and insects. Cut stems the following morning before the sun heats them. Rinse again and spin dry in a salad spinner. Gather stems and hang in paper bags, or use a dehydrator to dry. Store in sealed plastic bags when completely dry.

Preventing Disease on Hostas

Anthracnose shows up on hostas as large, irregular spots with dark borders. The centers of the spots will eventually fall out, leaving the foliage with holes, much like slug damage. Try to keep leaves as dry as possible, and improve air circulation by thinning the plants.

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