Gardening in April
*If starting flowers from seed, plant celosia, marigold, portulaca, zinnia and other warm-season annuals in the prepared beds now. Keep the seeded areas moist until seeds germinate. Thin out as soon as they are big enough to transplant, and move those surplus plants to other areas. For instant color, purchase started annuals. Select short, compact plants. Any flowers or flower buds should be pinched to give plants an opportunity to become established.
*Plant turf grass--Bermuda from seed and St. Augustine and zoysia from sod.
*Prune those spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia and burning-bush after they finish blooming. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.
*Pinch the tips out of new blackberry canes to encourage branching and produce a more compact plants.
*Turf grass: A soil test will usually show that clay soils need only nitrogen, while sandy soils will require a high nitrogen fertilizer at a 4-1-2 ratio, for example. For both, half or more of the nitrogen should be in a slow-release form.
*For trees, shrubs, vegetables, and flower beds use the same type fertilizer used on the lawn. Be sure it does not contain any weed killer such as a weed and feed product, which is not recommended at all. For acid-loving plants like azaleas, gardenias, wisteria, etc., use an iron/sulfur soil-acidifier product. Keep this off of masonry or painted surfaces because it could stain them.
*For roses, use a complete fertilizer for the first application just as new growth starts, then use ammonium sulfate, or other high nitrogen source, every 4 to 6 weeks.
*Bag worms on junipers and other narrow-leafed evergreens. Hand pick light infestations. Sevin dust or spray should be applied while the insects and the bags are about one-half inch in length. Organic remedies include sprays of Bt or Spinosad. Tearing open the bags allows birds and wasps to feed on the worms.
*Check new tender growth for aphids. Large infestations should be controlled. Try a strong spray from the hose first. If you decide to use pesticides, always follow label instructions
*Save any left-over flower or vegetable seeds by closing the packet with tape or paper clips and storing in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator.
*Check sprinkler heads for cleaning, realigning, repairs or replacement.
*Spring weather is unpredictable, so continue to be prepared to protect tender plants early in the month.
*Wait to cut the foliage on daffodils until the greenery turns brown, which will be in a month or so. The stem and leaves continue to produce carbohydrates that will strengthen the bulb for spectacular blooms next spring. Since most tulips are an annual in our area, go ahead and cut that greenery back.
The annual Garden, Lawn and Home Expo is Saturday, March 29 and the Bonham Civic Center from 8:30-4:00. Master Gardeners meet the first Monday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Derrell Hall Education Center at 2505 N. Center. The program for April will be gHealthy Turf Care that Will Save You Money and Waterh presented by Chuck Jones, Grayson County Extension Agent. Submit questions to the Extension office at 903-5983-7453 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.