Pacific Northwest

July, 2010
Regional Report

Discourage Aphids

Ants crawling on garden plants are often a sign that aphids are present. Some ant species protect aphids, moving them from plant to plant, and even taking them underground into the anthill for overnight safety. The ants do this to ensure a supply of honeydew, a sugary substance secreted by the aphids, on which the ants feed. Discourage aphids by hosing them off your plants with a strong steam of water. Ants will probably move on when there are no more aphids to herd.

Water Thoroughly

Give your plants a long, deep drink of water in the early morning hours so they're refreshed and ready to face the heat of day. Watering in the morning allows the leaves to dry off before nightfall, helping avoid the conditions that favor the development of fungal diseases. You can slow evaporation by adding a 2-inch layer of organic matter over the soil in your beds. As an added bonus, mulch provides nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

Build a Flower Basket

Hanging flower baskets are great for putting color right at eye level. Select a container that's about 12 inches in diameter to create a large, full display. Fill it with light, loose, moistened potting soil, then plant. Baskets can be devoted to one plant or a combination of greenery and flowers. Suitable plants for containers include trailing or cascading ivy, vinca, thyme, and mint. For color, grow impatiens, verbena, dwarf marigolds, or creeping petunias.

Prevent Bitterness in Cucumbers

Cucumbers develop a bitter taste if the soil is not kept consistently moist. The bitterness is just below the skin and mostly on the ends. Cut or peel these areas away to remove the bitter taste. Mulching the soil around your cucumber plants will help regulate moisture levels and prevent bitterness in the fruit.

Keep Lawn Mower Blades Sharp

Lawn diseases are more common on grasses that are mowed with dull blades. Instead of making a clean cut, a dull blade frays the leaf tips and creates a greater surface area for disease pathogens to enter and infect the plant. A properly sharpened mower blade makes a clean cut and gives the lawn a neater look.

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