Timely advice on garden chores, fertilizing, pest control, and more from OSU Extension. These tips are not necessarily applicable to all areas of Oregon. For more information, contact your local Extension office.

Sustainable gardening

Oregon State University Extension Service encourages sustainable gardening practices.

Practice preventive pest management rather than reactive pest control. Identify and monitor problems before acting, and opt for the least toxic approach. Conserve biological control agents such as predators and the parasitoids that feed on insect pests.

Use chemical controls only when necessary and only after thoroughly reading the pesticide label. First consider cultural, then physical and biological controls. Choose the least-toxic options, and use them judiciously. Some examples include insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanical insecticides, and organic and synthetic pesticides.

Planning

  • Force spring bulbs for indoor blooms in December.

Maintenance and cleanup

  • Service lawn mower.

  • Check potatoes in storage and remove any going bad.

  • Place a portable cold frame over rows of winter vegetables.

  • Place mulch around berries for winter protection.

  • Cover rhubarb and asparagus beds with composted manure and straw.

  • Rake and compost leaves that are free of diseases and insects. Use mulch to prevent erosion and compaction from rain.

  • To protect built-in sprinkler systems, drain the system and insulate the valve mechanisms.

  • Clean and oil your lawnmower and other garden equipment and tools before storing them for winter. Drain and store hoses carefully to avoid damage from freezing. Renew mulch around perennial flowerbeds after removing weeds.

  • Protect tender evergreens from drying wind.

  • Tie limbs of upright evergreens to prevent breakage by snow or ice.

  • Trim chrysanthemums to 4 to 6 inches after they finish blooming.

  • Leave ornamental grasses up in winter to provide texture in the landscape. Cut them back a few inches above the ground in early spring.

  • Western Oregon: Last chance to plant cover crops for soil building. You can also use a 3- to 4-inch layer of leaves, spread over the garden plot, to eliminate winter weeds, suppress early spring weeds and prevent soil compaction by rain.

  • Western Oregon: Watch for wet soil and drainage problems in yard during heavy rains. Tiling, ditching and French drains are possible solutions. Consider rain gardens and bioswales as a long-term solution.

  • Western Oregon: Take cuttings of rhododendrons and camellias for propagation; propagate begonias from leaf cuttings.

  • Western Oregon: Prune roses (tea and floribunda, but NOT climbers and ramblers) to around 3 feet in height to prevent winter damage.

  • Central/eastern Oregon: If there is no snow cover and the ground is warm enough, water your newly planted perennials, trees and shrubs every 6 to 8 weeks. Give them a deep soaking to keep them from drying out.

  • Central/eastern Oregon: Wrap the trunks of young, thin-barked trees (maples, aspen, ash) with paper tree wrap late in the month to prevent sunscald. Remove in April. Wrap new trees two to three years in a row until the outer bark has thickened.

Planting/propagation

  • Plant a window garden of lettuce, chives and parsley.

  • It's a good time to plant trees and shrubs. Consider varieties that supply food and shelter to birds, such as sumac, elderberry, flowering currant and mock orange.

  • Western Oregon: Still time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses. Don't delay.

  • Western Oregon: Good time to plant garlic for harvest next summer, and to transplant landscape trees and shrubs.

Pest monitoring and management

  • Rake and destroy leaves from fruit trees that were diseased this year. Remove and discard mummified fruit.

  • Check firewood for insect infestations. Burn affected wood first and don't store inside.

  • Treat peaches four weeks after leaf fall spray for peach leaf curl and shothole diseases.

  • Western Oregon: Moss appearing in lawn may mean too much shade or poor drainage. Correct site conditions if moss is bothersome.

  • Western Oregon: Bait garden for slugs during rainy periods. Use traps or phosphate baits, which are pet-safe.

  • Monitor landscape plants for problems. Don't treat unless a problem is identified.

Houseplants and indoor gardening

  • Reduce fertilizer applications.

Trade-name products and services are mentioned as illustrations only. This does not mean that the Oregon State University Extension Service endorses these products and services or intends to discriminate against products and services not mentioned.

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