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Many things are needing to be done in the landscape during April.
Rhododendrons should have the flower trusses that are spent snapped off at the base as soon as they fade. Don’t wait until all the flowers have finished blooming to remove them because the plant will expend energy making seeds that would be better used to add new foliage when it has completed the bloom cycle. Fertilize them right after flowering with a rhododendron azalea camellia fertilizer now and then again in 30 days and a final time 30 days after that. The same treatment applies to azaleas when they are done blooming.
All those daffodils that were so beautiful earlier are no longer beautiful. Don’t cut off the leaves while they are still green. While the leaves are green, fertilize them with a high phosphorous fertilizer or one labeled “bulb food”. They bloomed early this year but here at the nursery the leaves are still green and the fertilizing can still be done. Hopefully it is the same with yours. The old leaves can be pulled up when they have turned yellow or brown.
Keep on top of the aphid problems and the fungus problems which might be worse than usual following a wet March. Spray with Neem oil or an insecticidal soap if you have aphids. You can also try ladybugs. We sell them in packages of 1500 bugs for $7.65. They do a good job on aphids. we have them on the counter in a small refrigerator to keep them dormant until they are released.
I would recommend you start spraying your roses for fungus problems now before they appear. Use Neem oil or a fungicide on them on a regular basis to prevent the fungus from getting started. Neem oil will also act as an insecticide and prevent the aphid problem.
If you planted any bare root fruit trees this year or last year, the trunks of those young trees should be painted with white tree trunk paint so that the young, thin bark does not become sunburned and cracked allowing insects to damage the cambium layer which carries nutrients to all parts of the tree. Do not use an oil based paint. If you can’t find tree trunk paint, a light colored, water based latex paint diluted with about 1/3 water can be substituted.
Now is the optimal time to plant your vegetable garden because the soil will be warming up more quickly as the night time temperatures are not so cold. We have a large selection of vegetable starts and seeds now in for planting and get restocked every week on Wednesdays and will continue to stay well stocked on vegetables through the spring season . Seedling plants as well as seeds should do well in the warmer soil, so plan your gardens. The root vegetables such as radishes, carrots (we suggest the short stubbier carrots in the areas with heavy clay), turnips, and beets should do well, too. When planting corn in your veggie garden, keep in mind that the pollen transfer is by the wind, so corn should be planted in blocks of parallel rows – not in a single row. The rows should run north and south for maximum sunlight exposure as the sun makes its daily overhead pass from east to west. In preparing your garden use a vegetable fertilizer and be sure to add calcium to prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes and squash. Mulch your vegetable garden with compost or straw and reduce the water you use. With a good layer of mulch, you can give a good soak to your garden about once a week during the cooler spring and maybe twice a week during the hot part of the summer. I used straw from cleaning the barn on my garden and it works very well. One customer said she used alfalfa as mulch and you get the benefit of the calcium and nitrogen as the hay breaks down. Something to consider.
Lawns should be fertilized with a lawn food, which will be high in nitrogen. You may want to over seed your lawn area to thicken it up a bit, and that can be done as long as your fertilizer does not have a weed control incorporated in the formula which would keep seed from sprouting. It is also a good time for starting a new lawn – before the weather heats up making it difficult to keep the area adequately dampened without having to sprinkle it every couple of hours or so. The same would apply to planting ground covers from flats – now is the time.
Lawns will do better if the mower blades are raised so that they are at least two inches high. Closely cut lawns don’t create much shade to the ground allowing it to dry much more quickly. That, in turn, requires more frequent and longer irrigating cycles for the lawn to stay nice and green. This will help to conserve water.
Citrus trees are available now, and it is a good time to plant them. It gives them time to become established and to acclimate to our area as we go into our fall and winter months. They are sub-tropical, so you must be prepared to protect them from very cold weather. All of the pretty summer annuals that provide reliable color in our yards are becoming more available now. Marigolds, alyssum, pansies, annual vinca, petunias, portulaca, snapdragons, lobelia, dianthus- the list is long and full of colorful ideas.
We will have fruit trees that were potted in January available in about 3 weeks or so. I will send out an email letting everyone know when they are available. These will be sold on a first come first serve basis. We cannot hold fruit trees for customers. We have tried this approach in the past and have problems so to be fair to all.
We are having a very nice spring this year and lots of rain this season. We have had 32″ for the season here at the nursery. The lakes around us are full and everything is green. Enjoy this beautiful weather and hopefully we see you soon.