Pacific Northwest

August, 2009
Regional Report

Take Rose Cuttings

You can root cuttings of your favorite roses now by snipping 6- to 9-inch lengths of healthy stems and removing all but the top 2 or 3 leaves. Insert the cutting 4 to 6 inches deep in pots of moistened growing medium, and place in a bright area out of direct sunshine. Firm the soil around the cuttings, water well, and cover with an inverted glass jar to conserve moisture. Remove the cover when new growth is visible. When well rooted, transplant them to the garden.

Sow Cover Crops

As you harvest the last of your vegetables, plant a winter cover crop, such as annual rye grass, red clover, and hairy vetch, to enrich your garden soil. A cover crop decreases soil erosion during the winter and adds organic material when incorporated into the soil in spring.

Leach Salts from Containers

Mineral salts can build up in the soil of potted plants, inhibiting root growth and leaving white, crusty deposits on container sides. Occasionally leach the soil by soaking the pots until the soil is completely saturated, then allowing fresh water to run through the soil for several minutes, flushing out the salts.

Control Disease and Insect Problems

I employ cultural practices to avoid insect and disease problems in the garden. I keep weeds pulled, regularly pinch back plants to improve air circulation, and water early in the day so foliage dries out by evening so diseases are less likely to start. Hand-picking insects and avoiding chemical sprays whenever possible helps maintain a healthy balance of beneficial insects in my garden.

Replace Spent Annuals

When summer annuals such as marigolds, nicotiana, and petunias stop blooming, remove them and mulch the area to discourage weeds. Or amend the soil with compost and sow seeds of colorful cool-season annuals like pansies, lobelia, and winter kale.

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