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April is the time to get busy in the garden

Maggie King is a UC Master Gardene.
Maggie King is a UC Master Gardene.

Q: What should I be doing in my garden in April? — Sandy Shaw, San Luis Obispo

A: April is my favorite month in the garden. Rosebuds are ready to pop open, a variety of blossoms fill the air with perfume, the days are getting longer — spring is officially here! Anticipating a beautiful, bountiful summer garden makes April’s many chores more fun than work.

You can start the summer vegetable garden now, sowing seeds for warm season vegetables like beans, corn, summer squash, carrots and cucumbers.

If you started summer flowering annuals indoors, they can be put in the garden now. If not, take advantage of the wide variety of bedding plants available in nurseries, and fill the garden with marigolds, ageratum, nasturtiums, petunias, phlox, verbena, zinnias and others.

Plant seeds of cosmos and sunflowers now for summer bloom. Plant begonias, coleus, impatiens and lobelia in shady areas. Subtropical trees and shrubs, citrus and avocados can be planted now. A variety of roses in containers are available.

The battle against garden pests never ends. It is best to use the least toxic methods of control. A strong blast of water from a hose several mornings a week works wonders in combating aphids and powdery mildew.

Control gophers by trapping, and continue this throughout the year. Begin watching your apple, pear, and walnut fruit for small holes in fruits filled with reddish brown crumbling droppings, especially where fruits are touching. This is a sign of codling moth damage. The Master Gardeners have information on nonchemical treatment of infestations which are detected early.

Congratulate yourself on waiting until the most appropriate timing for a good spring feeding in the garden and protecting our environment from nutrient pollution. Reward spring bulbs that have just bloomed with a complete fertilizer to prepare them for next year’s bloom. Grass lawns, citrus, gardenias, camellias and hydrangeas all need the appropriate food at this time. If plants are showing yellowed leaves with green veins, they may need chelated iron as well.

Allergy sufferers are well aware that in spring allergens are plentiful. Gardening early in the day may be beneficial because pollen counts are lowest at this time. It may help to wear a dust mask while gardening.