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What to do in your garden in April: mountain checklist.

Mountain Checklist


* BARE-ROOT STOCK. Set out bare-root berries, grapes, roses, and both fruit and ornamental trees this month. Bare-root plants are less expensive than container-grown stock, and they adapt to garden soil more easily.

* FLOWERS. Nurseries are full of cool-season annual seedlings. You can set out annuals like calendulas, English daisies, pansies, primroses, snapdragons, stock, and violas and a host of flowering perennials, including bergenia, bleeding hearts, and forget-me-nots.

* HARDY VEGETABLES. Early in the month, plant bare-root asparagus, horseradish, and rhubarb. As soon as you can work the soil, sow beets, carrots, endive, kohlrabi, lettuce, onion, parsley, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips. Set out transplants of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and green onions. Plant seed potatoes. Use floating row covers or hot caps to protect seedlings from late frosts and to hold warmth around plants so they get off to a fast start.

* SPRING-BLOOMING TREES AND SHRUBS. You can buy and plant flowering shrubs in containers, including flowering quinces, forsythias, magnolias, and redbuds.


* FEED LAWNS. Apply 1 to 2 pounds of high-nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of turf (put more on heavily used lawns and those growing in poor soil). Spread the fertilizer evenly over the lawn, then water it in thoroughly.

* MULCH. A 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch suppresses weeds, holds in moisture, and - when the weather heats up - keeps roots cool. Spread mulch around annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs. But keep mulch a few inches away from warm-season vegetables since their roots need the warmest soil possible until hot weather sets in.

* PRUNE. Early in the month, before new growth emerges, finish pruning grapes, roses, vines, and deciduous fruit and ornamental trees. Wait until after flowering to prune spring-blooming trees and shrubs such as forsythia and spiraea; or prune them lightly after buds swell, and bring the cuttings indoors to display in vases.


* APPLY DORMANT SPRAY. After pruning but before leaves and flowers appear, spray fruit trees with a mixture of dormant oil and lime sulfur or oil and copper. If rain washes it off within 48 hours, reapply. If you use oil and copper, keep spray off walls, fences, and walks that might become stained.

* DIG OR HOE WEEDS. When weeds are small, wait until soil is dry, then hoe early in the day. Sun and dryness will kill tiny roots by day's end. For larger weeds, water thoroughly, then pop them out with a hand weeder, roots and all. Let whole weeds dry in the sun before you compost them.

* ROTATE VEGETABLE BEDS. To avoid soil-borne diseases, never plant the same kinds of crops in the same beds two years in a row. For example, if you planted cabbage family members in a bed last year, switch to a completely different crop (such as tomatoes) this year.


Pinch those tips

Many annuals and some perennials benefit from being pinched back early in the season: chrysanthemums, euryops, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, petunias, snapdragons, and zinnias, for instance. Pinch the tender new growth between the nails of your thumb and forefinger, nipping off one to three sets of leaves. Take just-forming buds, too. With proper water and fertilizer, plants will soon put out bushy new growth.
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes related article on caring for annuals and perennials
Date:Apr 1, 1998
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