Pacific Northwest

January, 2009
Regional Report

Propagate Houseplants

Leggy indoor plants can be renewed by air layering. Here's how: With a sharp knife, make a slanting cut about 1/4 inch of the way through the stem. Hold the wound open with a toothpick to keep it from healing over. Dust the wound with rooting hormone, then wrap the wounded area with moist sphagnum moss and cover it with plastic to keep the rooting medium from drying out. When roots form, cut the new plant off and pot it up.

Recycle Squeeze Bottles

The handiest watering container I've found for seedlings is a plastic mustard dispenser. Mine is made of soft plastic with a screw-on top, complete with built-in nozzle. It's perfect for dribbling a little water on individual seedling cells in between bottom watering.

Slug-Proof Your Container Plants

Copper strips around containers can help keep slugs from dining on foliage, but the little pests still hide in the drainage holes in the bottoms of pots. I've discovered a way to keep them out. An old copper scouring pad placed over the hole before potting soil is added keeps soil in and slugs out. The pad allows water to drain, but the sharp edges of the copper filaments keeps slugs out.

Feed Birds

A constant source of food will keep birds visiting all winter long. The best locations for feeders are in trees for protection from the weather, and near shrubs for cover. Birds also need water, so keep the birdbath filled with fresh water all through the winter months.

Start Seeds in Kitty Litter

Regular, fragrance-free kitty litter makes a great seed starting medium. It remains moist but not soggy and provides lots of spaces between particles for good root development. I fill seedling trays with moistened kitty litter, sow seeds on the surface, then sprinkle a shallow layer of peat moss over the seeds. Seedlings started this way won't develop damping-off disease.

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