Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Pacific Northwest

July, 2010
Regional Report

Divide Bearded Iris

Any time between now and October is perfect to dig and divide bearded iris. Remove the flower stalk, dig the plants from the soil and discard any spongy rhizomes. Cut individual sections of root, each with a fan of foliage, to plant or share with neighbors. Reduce the amount of foliage by cutting it back to 3 to 4 inches from the root. Plant prepared rhizomes in fast draining soil in full sun.

Watch for Tomato Pests

Be on the watch for disappearing leaves and stems on your tomato plants. It can often happen overnight. The culprits are hornworms, large caterpillars with voracious appetites. Their green camouflage blends in with foliage and makes them difficult to spot. You can hand pick the worms and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Or use a biological control -- Bacillus thuringiensis (or Bt) -- which kills the caterpillars by infecting them with a fatal disease.

Cut Back Leggy Annuals

It is possible to get another set of blooms from your annual plantings if you cut them back while the weather is still warm. Petunias especially benefit from a midseason grooming. If you don''t want to look at stubs and twigs, simply cut back one third of each plant every week. That way you will always have some flowers to look at while new growth is coming on. Personally, I like to get it all over with at once. Perennial plants such as coreopsis also benefit from an overall haircut.

Patrol for Slugs

Continue to search out and destroy garden slugs in the evening and early morning hours when they are feeding on flowers and vegetables. These slimy critters can quickly damage tender flowers and foliage. Hand-pick slugs and drop them into a pail of soapy water.

Mound Soil Around Carrots

If the tops of your carrots are exposed to sunlight while growing, they will develop green shoulders. The green gives carrots a bitter taste. Mulch carrots with soil to keep the roots covered at all times.


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