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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 Jan. 29

Bundle up and get work done!

* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.

* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.

* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.

* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.

* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.

* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.

* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.

* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.

* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.

* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.

* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.

* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.

* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.

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