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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 Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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