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April To Do List

Tatume squash Shovel Ready Gardener

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
  • Shrubs
  • 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”.

Plant: herbs

  • Basil, catnip/catmint, comfrey, fennel, horseradish, feverfew, oregano, thyme, rosemary, Mexican mint marigold, peppermint, lemongrass, lemon balm, lemon verbena, bay laurel

Plant: food crops

Prune

  • 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

Move/Divide

  • Succulents

Fertilize

  • 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.

Insects

  • 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.

Lawn

  • 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.

Prep

  • Add compost to vegetable gardens along with organic fertilizer in prep for more summer crops
  • Soil test

Other tasks

  • 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.

Tips

  • 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.
  • Mulch.
  • Plant flowers in your vegetable garden to encourage bee pollinators.

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