Pacific Northwest

October, 2000
Regional Report

Harvest Winter Squash


Harvesting winter squash at just the right time takes experience and a fair amount of luck. The fruit needs to ripen fully on the vine or it will be bland and watery, but frost will shorten its storage life. Watch the weather forecast and harvest just before the first frost of the season, after the fruits have turned the right color for the variety.

Prune Hydrangea


Remove spent smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) blooms, then reduce stem heights, remembering that next year's blooms will come from new shoots that develop on old wood. I cut mine back 12 to 18 inches above the ground, retaining the natural shape of the shrub. Remove weeds around the base of the plants and add a layer of compost.

Mulch Strawberry Plants


Remove the foliage from your strawberry plants with a mower or hedge trimmer, being careful not to injure the crowns of the plants. The crown is where next year's leaf and flower buds are developing. Mulch the bed with straw or pine boughs to protect the plants over the winter months.

Clean Garden Tools


Stakes and trellises should be removed from vegetable and flower gardens, dismantled, and cleaned for storage. Allow wooden stakes to thoroughly dry before storing. Clean soil and rust from garden tools, sharpen as needed with a file or stone, then wipe metal parts with an oily rag.

Ripen Tomatoes Indoors


Harvest remaining partially ripened tomatoes by cutting fruit from the plant, wrapping individually in newspaper, and storing in a cool area. Bring tomatoes indoors as needed, allowing 3 to 5 days at average household temperatures to complete the ripening process. Check for any rotting fruits and destroy them.

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