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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 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

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

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

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

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

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

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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