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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 4

Sunny, mild conditions are perfect for gardening

Zinnia seed packets
Can you guess Kathy's favorite annual flower? Yes, it's time to sow zinnia seeds
-- and a lot of other things. Happy April! (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

It’s time to get outside! Days like these make new gardeners and reinvigorate longtime green thumbs.

April is one of the best gardening months in Sacramento, with mild temperatures and lots of sun. Historically, we average highs of 71 degrees and lows of 46; keep that in mind while planting summer veggies.

According to the National Weather Service, we may see clouds Monday, but April showers are unlikely. The forecast for this first full week of April calls for mostly sunny (and dry) conditions, with afternoons in the low to mid 70s and overnight lows in the mid 40s.

Wait just a little bit longer before setting out tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. They need nights that are consistently above 50 degrees to get comfortable. Otherwise, they’ll just sulk and not grow.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 6-6-6) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Pull invasive plants before they flower or go to seed.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beets, carrots, chard, radishes, spinach  and squash. Plant onion sets. Wait til the second half of the month to plant beans, corn, cucumbers and melons; pumpkins can wait until May. They need warm soil to germinate.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Transplant one last round of leaf lettuce or other leafy greens.


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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Oct. 2

Plan to make the most of the mild weather in your garden.

* October is the best month to plant trees and shrubs.

* October also is the best time to plant perennials in our area. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to planting holes or beds, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioluses, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

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