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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 5


The buds on this Genoa lemon are forming -- time to pick the last of the lemons! This tree also could use a dose of
fertilizer. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)

Hold off on tomatoes; they won't be happy outdoors



April can be unpredictable. So far this month, we've seen examples throughout our lives.

Weatherwise, we've bounced from highs flirting with 80 degrees back down to temperatures 10 degrees below normal. Although days have been sunny, nights are still dipping into the low 40s.

In addition, we're getting wet! After Saturday's rain, expect more Sunday and Monday. The National Weather Service issued a thunderstorm alert for the Valley, warning of possible gusty winds, heavy rain, lightning and even hail. Conditions are right that a weak tornado could pop up, too.

So, keep waiting on transplanting your tomatoes. Summer vegetables need warm soil and nights in the 50s before going in the ground.

What should you be doing this week?
* Harvest oranges, lemons and other citrus fruit. The trees want to bloom and need to shed last year's remaining fruit.
* Feed citrus with a low dose of balanced fertilizer during this month’s bloom and fruit set. If leaves look yellow, your tree may need an iron boost. Feed with a chelated iron fertilizer.
* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.
* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.
Trim the blooms from spent daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs.
But don't trim the leaves -- let them store up energy for next year's flowers.
* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.
* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.
* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, radishes and squash.
* Plant onion sets.
* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.
* 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, summer bulbs and dahlia tubers.

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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