Pacific Northwest

December, 2001
Regional Report

Conserve Energy

A tall, evergreen hedge planted on the windward side of your home can cut heating bills by 34 percent. If your house is exposed to winter winds, consider establishing an evergreen planting for a windbreak this spring to help conserve energy in years to come.

Repot Cactus

Repotting cactus doesn't have to be a prickly experience. Start with fresh potting mix (3 parts sand to 1 part standard potting soil) and place some in the bottom of a slightly larger pot. Make a sling out of rolled newspapers, place it around the cactus to protect your fingers from the sharp spines, then pull the cactus out of the old pot and put it in the new one. Fill in around the root ball with more of the fresh potting soil mix and tamp it down gently. Then remove the newspaper sling and your newly repotted cactus can be returned to its favorite growing spot.

Premature Bulb Growth

Hardy spring bulbs sometimes send up new shoots in the middle of winter, when the weather seems much too cold. I always worry about the 3-inch daffodil shoots or blooming crocus when snow is predicted, but they are remarkably resistant to cold temperatures. With mulch for root protection, these plants will manage well on their own, stopping growth during cold spells and resuming when it warms up again. The only help you can offer is to place 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around any exposed shoots if snow is predicted.

Protect Container Plants

An easy way to protect the roots of outdoor container plants through winter is to sink the pots into the ground to the top of the lip. Another method is to place the pots inside larger pots and then fill the void between the pots will dry potting soil. The air space between the pots will help maintain a suitable temperature for the roots.

Build a Cold Frame

If you're growing cool-season vegetables, you can help protect your crops from cold snaps by building a simple frame of PVC pipe and draping clear plastic over it. The plastic will trap heat, so prop the frame up with stones on clear days to allow cool air to enter to prevent plants from burning and to let excess moisture evaporate.

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