Western Mountains and High Plains

September, 2011
Regional Report

Prepare for Spring Bulb Planting

Look for areas in your garden with well-drained soils and in need of spring color. Bulbs are arriving at garden centers and nurseries. Prepare the soil for bulb planting by digging out the soil to the depth the bulbs are to be planted, then working in compost and some bone meal or high phosphorus fertilizer another three inches deeper.

Plant Groundcovers as Living Mulch

Those difficult areas where flowers cannot grow because of shade can be landscaped with groundcovers including periwinkle (Vinca minor), creeping Oregon grape, spotted dead nettle, and sweet woodruff. Once established, these alternatives are drought-tolerant and add interest to shady areas.

Observe Caterpillars

Large caterpillars are on the move. Some are rather attractive (to a hobby entomologist, like me) such as those of the Cecropia, Polyphemus, and Sphinx moths. They can be found meandering through the garden to pupate. No controls are warranted. They are great for kids to capture and rear in an insect box.

Deal with Yellowjackets

Late summer and early fall is the time for yellowjackets and wasps to visit the garden. They feed on windfall apples, other ripening fruits, honeydew excreted from aphids and scale insects, and the hummingbird feeder. Cope with them by placing traps in the garden, use aerosol "wasp and hornet" sprays for nest control, and entertain in areas less prone to their visitation. Keep sugary foods and drinks out of their sight.

Leave Spiders Alone

Spiders and their webs can be seen throughout the vegetable and flower garden in late summer. They are beneficial inhabitants of the garden as they help control many insect pests. Spiders will eat hundreds of insect pests or other small arthropods every year. They only need to be left alone, or if found indoors, released to the outdoors.

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