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Get It Growing: April gardening activities
April 10: Pollinator Crisis (Tim Lawrence, Island County Extension director)
April 24: Weed (especially brambles) Control Best Practices (Cathy Lucero, Clallam County Weed Control)
Brown Bag seminars are held monthly on the second and fourth Thursdays from noon-1 p.m. at the Clallam County Courthouse (commissioners meeting room), 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.
Clinics are held from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursdays at the courthouse in Port Angeles Or call the Plant Clinic helpline at 417-2514.
Clean and sharpen tools and mower blades. Check your irrigation system and install a drip system, if possible. Water newly planted shrubs and trees and plan how you will water them all summer; even native plants need extra water for 2-3 years until established. Harden off plants moved from the house or greenhouse into the garden by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over 7-10 days. Pull weeds. Patrol for insects and other pests and consult your local Master Gardener for ways to control them.
Remove faded blossoms but leave foliage. Fertilize bulbs once after bloom. At the end of the month, plant summer-blooming bulbs, rhizomes and tubers such as gladiolus, lilies, begonias and cannas.
Finish pruning established roses. Fertilize established roses every 4-6 weeks through July; do not fertilize newly planted roses. Do not use pre-emergent weed killer near roses because it damages their roots. Plant seeds of asters, cosmos, marigolds and zinnias. Move stored fuchsias and geraniums outdoors; cover if frost returns. Finish garden cleanup and fertilizing. Start your garden journal now while spring energy reigns!
Plant sweet peas. Prune last year’s blooms from heathers and heaths; apply fertilizer and mulch, if needed.
Fertilize rhododendrons with an acidifying fertilizer (e.g., ammonium sulfate) once shortly before blooming and once after. Plant shrubs before the end of April to avoid the stress of summer weather. Prune spring-blooming shrubs after they bloom.
Still time in April to plant trees before summer weather arrives; do not fertilize newly planted trees. Fertilize established trees only if they show signs of nutrient deficiency (e.g., slow shoot growth or yellow leaves). For more information on this and other gardening topics, contact the Master Gardener Plant Clinic at 417-2514.
Fruit trees, small fruits
If you have had past problems with scab or mildew, spray apple trees with lime-sulfur or a multi-purpose fungicide spray registered for use on these diseases; follow product instructions carefully.
Remove dead canes from raspberries (i.e., last year’s fruiting canes). Fertilize raspberries, blackberries and blueberries as buds swell with 5:10:10 fertilizer. Plant strawberries now to enjoy sweet fruit this summer.
Be sure garlic does not dry out; fertilize it lightly with nitrogen to get lush leaves. Transplant vegetable starts after the last hard frost, hardening them off first. Sow beets, chard, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, spinach, carrots and parsnips. Start tomatoes, squash and basil indoors. Use row covers now to protect spinach, chard and beets from leaf miners. Check cabbage family crops for loopers and other caterpillars.
Thin direct-seeded crops as they sprout. Late in the month, plant squash, zucchini, pumpkins and cucumber seeds indoors in large peat pots. “Jack-Be-Little” mini-pumpkins delight children!
Fertilize grass in late April with 3:1:2 slow-release or organic formulations unless you plan to let it go dormant in the summer. Water a new lawn regularly until it is 3 inches tall. Mow regularly.
Kamera Muralt and Bill Wrobel are Washington State University-certified, Clallam County Master Gardeners.