Q: What are some garden tasks that should I take care of in April? — Laura H.
A: April is a month of abundant bloom; annuals planted last fall are bursting with flowers and many perennials are starting to bloom as well. The weather and soil are warming up and it’s an ideal time to be out in the garden.
You can plant vegetables now. Fast growers such as radishes and lettuce can be interplanted with larger, slower growing vegetables such as tomatoes. By the time larger vegetables need the space the others will already have been harvested. It’s best to rotate vegetables so they aren’t grown in the same place every season. This helps keep diseases in the soil from building up. Herbs and summer annuals like cosmos, nasturtiums, and sunflowers can be seeded directly into the garden.
Irrigation timers may need to be reset for warmer weather. Deadheading (trimming spent flowers) will prolong bloom as plants strive to produce more flowers. April is a good time to fertilize the garden; trees, shrubs and perennials will all benefit. A top dressing of compost will support soil health and tidy the garden’s appearance.
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Just as warmer weather benefits the garden, it also spurs the growth of weeds, pests and diseases. Continue pulling weeds before soil dries and hardens, making work more difficult.
Pay attention to plant health; powdery mildew thrives in spring with the warming days and cool nights. Fungal spores are easily spread by splashing water from a hose or rain. To minimize powdery mildew, water early enough to allow foliage to completely dry during the day. Or for particularly susceptible plants, drip irrigation and plenty of elbow room are recommended.
Finally, don’t forget that snails are very active in the spring. Hand picking regularly at night can substantially diminish their population. If using bait, select one with iron phosphate as the active ingredient, as it is nontoxic to children, pets, birds, fish and wildlife.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org .