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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of April 21

Citrus trees benefit from a low dose of fertilizer during bloom and fruit set. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)
Spring bursts into bloom; watch out for weeds

Warmer temperatures have finally put the zing in spring.

Flowers are opening everywhere as plants respond to longer days and more sunshine. Growth speeds, too, which means keep an eye on weeds. Also, watch out for aphids, slugs and other pests that may be munching on this lush green growth.

Did you get an Easter lily? These beautiful white flowers prefer cool temperatures indoors, 60 to 65 degrees away from windows, drafts or heat. After the flowers fade, the lily can be transplanted outdoors into the garden. These bulbs prefer cool growing conditions, so plant them deep – about 6 inches. Cover the bulbs with mulch or compost in a semi-shady spot (morning sun preferred).

But don’t expect them to flower in April. In the garden, Easter lilies bloom in midsummer.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Ripe oranges, lemons or grapefruit may still be on the tree. Citrus tends not to flower with fruit on its branches. Finish the harvest. Pick up any dropped fruit; it attracts pests. Remember: Sacramento is under quarantine for
Oriental fruit fly and Asian citrus psyllid , which means citrus can’t be moved out of county. Keep your home-grown fruit at home.

* If leaves look yellow, your citrus tree may need an iron boost. Feed with a chelated iron fertilizer.

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them while they’re young. Don’t let unwanted invaders go to seed or grow deep roots. In particular, pull out any bindweed, bedstraw or milk thistle, which seem to grow overnight.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds. Don’t mound mulch around trunks or main stems; it can cause crown rot.

* Set out tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* 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. Late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.


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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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