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Gardening in Washington State

Archive for August 2014

Why Are My Onion Bulbs So Small?

Onions form bulbs in response to day length or the number of hours of daylight. There are two main types of onions: those grown in northern latitudes that bulb in response to long days, and those grown in southern latitudes that bulb in response to short days. The long-day onions grown in Washington will start to bulb when there are 14 hours of daylight. If they are not planted early enough in the spring, bulbing will begin before the plant grows enough to produce a large bulb. When purchasing onion seed, Washington gardeners should be sure to select only long-day onion cultivars.

Photo credit: Licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons

For more information, download a free PDF of Growing Onions in Home Gardens.

Submitted by: Marianne Ophardt, August 25, 2014


When to Harvest Carrots

Carrots can be harvested for fresh eating any time they reach a desirable size. However, if carrots are to be stored, they should be harvested when they are fully mature. When thinning or harvesting carrots, pull out baby types by their tops and dig out longer types. Longer carrots fre­quently break if pulled, so it’s best to use a digging fork to loosen and lift the carrots out of the soil.

Photo credit: “Mrkva” by Roberta F.

More information is available on Growing Carrots in Home Gardens FS118E at

Submitted by: Marianne Ophardt, August 18, 2014 =============================================================================

Praying Mantids – Defender of Home Landscapes

Praying mantids are among the largest (1 to 4 inches long) and most recognizable garden predators—and they’re not fussy about what they catch and eat. They are “sit and wait” predators that pounce on any insect that comes too close, including beneficial in­sects, like bees and butterflies. The most common species in the Pacific Northwest is the European mantid (Mantis religiosa). Praying mantids are most often seen in the garden from mid-summer to mid-autumn.  After laying a number of white, hard-foam egg cases (which overwinter attached to branches and trunks), Mantids are typically killed off by the first frosts of autumn. They kill and consume a good number of pests like caterpillars and flies, but their contribution to garden pest control is usually less than their larger-than-life image.

An adult female praying mantid, Mantis religiosa, poised on potted poinsettia plant in search of its next arthropod meal.  Photo by Mike Bush, WSU Extension.

For more information on beneficial arthropods in the home landscape, see WSU Extension manual EM067E- Beneficial Insects, Spiders, and Other Mini-Creatures in Your Garden: Who They Are and How to Get Them to Stay on-line at

Submitted by: Michael R. Bush, August 11, 2014


Gardening in Washington State, Puyallup Research and Extension Center

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