April Garden Tasks 2016

Native California Iris Flowers

In Bay Area gardens we are lucky to be able to grow beautiful citrus plants of all types, and many lemon trees bear fruit year-round. A common question I get is about when to prune citrus… well the time is now! Frost danger is over and many trees are at the end of their fruiting period. If you are lucky to have one of those year-round bearers it can be hard to prune a tree laden with fruit. Consider harvesting the ripe fruit, squeezing the juice and freezing in ice cube trays. Empty the frozen juice cubes into a freezer bag for storage. You will be ready for lemonade anytime… or add a few cubes to your cocktail.

Dogwood 'Venus' flowers

In the ornamental garden:

  • Weed! Do it now, please… It’s a good time since soil is still moist from recent rains. Don’t wait for the weeds to set seed and create even more weeds. Do 15 minutes a day… it’s amazing how much you can remove in that time. Leave your gloves and weeding tool in a convenient spot so you don’t have an excuse.
  • Bait or hand-pick snails and slugs… They are voracious this time of year and reproduce very quickly. Set out bait (Sluggo, etc.) or hand-pick in the morning or evening. Repeat every couple of weeks to keep population down. Look for them in shady spots and around the rims of flower pots.
  • Plant summer-flowering annuals like cosmos, linaria, sunflower and zinnias. Beneficial insects love these plants!
  • Remove spent blossoms from azaleas, camellias, poppies and spring bulbs.
  • Prune Azaleas and Camellias and other early spring bloomers after they finish blooming… remove dead, diseased or crossing branches. Prune for shape and size as well. Always try to cut back to an existing branch and don’t leave any stubs sticking out.
  • Fertilize lawns, citrus, roses and all summer-flowering shrubs. I like to use a thin layer of good-quality, slow-release amendment but buy the stuff in boxes if your budget is tight or time is short. Lawns can be fertilized year-round by leaving the clippings from mowing.
  • Remove any frost damage from plants… cut back to healthy new growth.
  • Fuchsias and Abutilons can be cut back if they’re getting leggy.


Dioone edule leaf

In the edible garden:

  • Prepare your garden beds… Remove weeds (if they don’t have seeds, dig them under to add organic matter to the soil), add some compost, turn the soil and level the ground or mound it up a bit for better drainage.
  • You can still plant root crops like beets, carrots, potatoes, radishes in the first part of month.
  • Beans, cucumber, pumpkin, squash can be sowed in pots now or directly into garden as the soil warms up this month.
  • Tomato, pepper, eggplant seedlings can be planted when nighttime temperatures are regularly above 55 degrees. Putting large glass jars over small seedlings can help get them going, but don’t let them fry on really hot days.
  • Plant herbs like Parsley, Cilantro, Thyme, and Rosemary.
  • Removed deformed leaf growth on peach trees
  • Citrus care… It’s a good time to prune citrus as frost danger is over. Remove dead, diseased or crossing branches. Remove suckers or awkward growth. Fertilize and then add a 2-3’ layer of mulch to keep soil moist and cool, reduce weeds and feed the soil.

- ebfriend