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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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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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