Pacific Northwest

November, 2008
Regional Report

Check Bulbs

Keep an eye on any bulbs that you potted for winter forcing. Make sure they remain moist and in the dark until they have established their root systems. It is possible that they have already filled their containers with roots and that the new top growth has begun. If this is so, bring them into the house and set them in a cool room, in indirect light.

Secure Vines and Canes

Make sure that the canes of your climbing roses and other vining plants are securely fastened to their supports. Winter winds can whip and severely damage unprotected plants. Don't tie them so tightly that the string or twist-tie cuts into the stem. I use a length of an old nylon stocking because it stretches as the plant grows and won't cut into the stem.

Plant a Cover Crop

After you have finished harvesting your summer vegetables, plant a cover crop to help improve the soil. Clover, soybeans, and vetch are good choices for the Pacific Northwest. Plan to turn these crops into the soil next spring. These nitrogen-producing plants will provide good organic matter and food for your garden crops next year, as well as help to control weeds over the winter.

Weed, Weed, Weed

One last effort at weeding will keep your garden looking neat throughout the winter. Any weed that you can eliminate from the garden this fall will prevent hundreds of weed seeds from sprouting in the garden next spring! Keep lawn and garden raked clean of leaves and debris. Fallen leaves, old plant parts, and grass clippings should be added to the compost pile.

Prepare for Cold Snaps

If there is a sudden drop in the temperature, provide extra protection for your more tender flowering plants. You can provide temporary, emergency protection by driving in three of four stakes around the plant, and then simply covering the plant with some type of cloth, like burlap, a sheet, or an old blanket. Don't let this material come into direct contact with the leaves of the plant. Remove the cover completely as soon as the weather moderates.

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