April To Do List
Plant: ornamental & wildlife
- Annuals: seed or transplant zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, Mexican sunflower—all good wildlife annuals. Transplant: Salvia coccineas, a native that butterflies and bees just love. Avoid planting caladiums.
- Succulents (agave, yucca, other succulents)
- Perennials & vines
- Esperanza (Tecoma stans)
- Ornamental (clumping) grasses like muhly and Mexican feather grass
- Clean up and replant containers—annuals, perennials, herbs, hibiscus, vegetables in larger containers
- Top new containers with light layer of mulch to conserve water; use decomposed granite, pea gravel or other grit for potted succulents
- Trees if you keep them watered! Deeply to at least 3”. Don’t water if soil is moist to 3”.
- Basil, catnip/catmint, comfrey, fennel, horseradish, feverfew, oregano, thyme, rosemary, Mexican mint marigold, peppermint, lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon verbena, bay laurel
Plant: food crops
- Chard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, endive, Malabar spinach, mustard, peppers, pumpkin, summer & winter squash, tomatillos (you need at least two!), tomatoes, beans, cantaloupe
- Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Vegetable Planting Guides (Central Texas) http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/travis/home-landscape/edible-gardens/growing-vegetables/
- Trees: DO NOT prune red oaks and live oaks unless damaged. Spray immediately with clear varnish.
- No need to apply pruning paint to other trees
- Dead head flowering plants
- Prune spring bulbs only when foliage is brown
- Bougainvilleas if not already pruned for overwintering
- Lawns. Use an 8-2-4 or other similar ratio. Do not use Weed and Feed products!
- Add compost to beds if not already. Mulch as you cut back dormant perennials. Fertilize with slow-release granular late in the month or as dormant perennials leaf out
- Add compost around trees and fertilize. Be sure to dig out grass several feet from the trunk, ideally to the drip line of the tree canopy.
- Citrus with high nitrogen fertilizer like Citrus-tone. Fertilize every few weeks through growing season.
- Watch for aphids and spider mites. It’s easy to spray them off with a hard blast of water. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves.
- Ladybugs and green lacewings will be chomping down those aphids, so watch for them and their larvae.
- Aphids and other insects can create sooty mold on plants, a fungus that develops from their secretions (honeydew). Wash off the culprits and the leaves. Remove damaged leaves to the trash (not the compost pile).
- Watch for tomato hornworms on tomatoes: squish or spray the plants with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural caterpillar control that won’t harm you or pets–only caterpillars!
- To fend off squash vine borers, keep row cover on and hand pollinate. Or take your chances with natural bee pollinators!
- Walk the garden in early morning to pick off stink bugs and largus bugs from tomatoes. Check under the leaves for eggs.
- Deploy grasshoppers while young. If you wait, you won’t be able to deal with them. Effective baits include Nolo Bait or Semaspore. Both contain a protozoa called Nosema locustae which is impregnated in bran flakes sweetened with sugar. Apply by hand or with a rotary spreader, early in the morning, when grasshoppers are feeding.
- Plant new lawn. Keep watered until established
- Mow weeds before they set seed
- Fertilize with an 8-2-4 or other similar ratio. Do not use Weed and Feed products!
- Mow to keep weeds from going to seed. Leave clippings on the lawn unless you have weed seeds.
- Add compost to vegetable gardens along with organic fertilizer in prep for more summer crops
- Soil test
- Watch for powdery mildew. Apply a natural fungicide like Serenade if necessary. Generally, it goes away naturally. Avoid watering leaves at night.
- Mulch, but avoid touching the base of trees and roses
- WEED! Do not let weeds go to seed. Do not apply chemicals: pull them up or mow down before they set seed.
- When moving plants back outside, do it gradually. Prune and lightly fertilize. Lightly mulch.
- When planting, dig hole twice as wide as root ball but no deeper than where it sits in the pot.
- Backfill and water until it sinks in.
- Continue filling in.
- Water again until it sinks in and pack the soil down.
- Plant flowers in your vegetable garden to encourage bee pollinators.