Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

December, 2009
Regional Report

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.

Prune Hydrangeas

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.

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.

Clean Garden Tools

Stakes and trellises should be removed from vegetable and flower gardens, dismantled, and cleaned for storage. Allow wooden stakes to dry thoroughly 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 periodically for rotting fruits and destroy them.


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