Pacific Northwest

June, 2009
Regional Report

Prepare Spuds for Planting

Chitting is the term for pre-sprouting seed potatoes for quicker rooting and earlier maturity. Chitting is achieved by placing seed potatoes either in full sunlight or under fluorescent lights three weeks prior to planting. I set mine in paper egg cartons to ensure adequate air circulation then place them in a sunny window sill. Once the sprouts are about an inch long, the potatoes can be planted.

Organize Seeds

To save time when growing season is in full swing, sort seed packets by season now. Put each group (transplant early, middle or late season) into a separate box or bag. When sowing time comes, there will be no time lost searching for the seeds.

Thin Fruits

Thin fruit from apple and pear trees by removing all but one or two fruits from each cluster. Many fruits will naturally drop, but you'll need to check the fruit spacing anyway and thin more if necessary. If it's hard to convince yourself to thin, remember that remaining fruits will be larger and more flavorful at harvest time.

Watch for Spittle Bugs

Keep a watch out for bubbly masses of spittle on the foliage of your perennials and shrubs. Little bugs that suck plant juices will cover themselves with this weird spittle material to protect themselves from predators. They can be easily controlled by hosing them down with a forceful spray of water. Once exposed to sunlight and heat, they will die.

Trap Slugs

I control slugs in a variety of ways, including handpicking and trapping. My most successful traps are small terracotta pots, inverted and propped up on small stones. Slugs crawl in during the day to hide and I simply scrape them out each afternoon.

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