April Gardening Tasks

 

 

Vegetables – As soil temperatures consistently get into the low 60s, you can seed things like beans and corn. When soil temperatures get into and above the mid-sixties to the low 70s, think about crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash and melons.

 

Watch for aphids on tender growth such as new cabbage leaves. Wash off with a strong water spray or try something like diatomaceous earth (DE) and watch for worm damage on all cole vegetable crops like cabbage, mustard and turnips! Dust with Bt as needed. Flea beetles can be a problem on radishes.

 

Cultivate to control grassy and broadleaf weeds, break up crusty soils and incorporate plenty of organic matter such as composts. Plant herbs.

 

The last frost for Hall County can fall between mid-March and mid-April. In any event, there is a lessening chance of frost in April, so many folks want to get an early start on the vegetable garden.  Some planting times for more common vegetables:

 

Tomatoes, eggplants and peppers – March 25 to April 1 - June 1

Cantaloupe – March 20 – June 20

Cucumbers - Apr. 1 - May 15

Watermelons – March 20 – May 1

Squash - Apr. 1 - May 15

Snap, Pole, & Half-runner beans - March 15 – May 1 to May 10

Sweet corn - March15 – June 1

 

Fruit trees - Inspect apple and pear fruit trees for fireblight.  If you had problems with fireblight last year, you will need to spray your blooms this year to prevent the spread.  The best defense is planting fireblight-resistant varieties. 

It's also time to begin spraying your fruit trees with a fungicide (Captan, etc.) every 7 to 10 days to provide the beautiful fruit you look forward to. See the spray schedules at the Hall County Extension office for specific fruit types.

 

This is a good time to fertilize fruit trees. Follow soil test guidelines.

 

Flowers – Late season frosts can sometimes occur, so be prepared to cover and protect tender crops if frosts are predicted. Floating row cover can give a few degrees of frost protection in emergencies.

 

Let the foliage of Spring-blooming bulbs turn brown before removing – this usually takes about 5-6 weeks.

 

You should now be planting your Summer and Fall-flowering bulbs in April and May, such as elephant ears, caladiums, dahlias, gladioli , cannas, and lilies.  But be sure to plant after the soil temperature reaches 55-65 degrees F.

 

You can seed in zinnias and plant transplants of many Terri Andrews bedding plants as soon as all danger of frost has passed – marigolds, coleus, torenia, petunia, verbena, etc.

 

Insects - Harmful insects become more active as the weather warms. Watch for thrips, scale, and mites on ornamental plants. Remember though, not all insects are harmful, so be familiar with the insects that visit your landscape!

 

Monitor landscape plants weekly for aphids on tender new growth.

 

Caterpillars may be present on trees and shrubs. Large trees can normally withstand caterpillar feeding but specimen shrubs may need treatment if damage is extensive.

 

Trees and shrubs – Early April is a good time to fertilize trees if you didn’t do it last Fall. Follow soil test guidelines to build good soil fertility. You might follow with a late June or early July followup. Many trees will be in bloom now including redbuds, silverbells and fringe trees.

 

Prune spring flowering shrubs such forsythia and flowering quince within a month after flowering. Finish planting new containerized trees and shrubs early in the month or wait until the Fall.

 

Remove grass from base of young trees and shrubs to prevent lawn mower and line trimmer damage.

 

Apply a level 3-4 inch mulch layer around plants but keep away from trunks and don’t pile the mulch up! Keep new trees and shrubs watered as needed.

 

Fertilize young established trees to promote growth.

 

Lawns - Spot treat broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, henbit, and chickweed.

 

Check mower and make needed repairs before season begins. Sharpen mower blades.

 

You can begin fertilizing Bermuda or St. Augustine when you see 50-60% green-up or if the soil’s consistently warmed to 65 plus degrees. Fertilize zoysiagrass at 75-100% greenup or when soils are at 65 degrees and fertilize centipede in late April at 50-75% greenup. Fertilize bermudagrass and St. Augustine every six weeks thereafter until mid-September. Fertilize zoysia every 6-7 weeks. Fertilize centipedegrass once in April and then again in mid-summer. A high potash low or no nitrogen “winterizer” fertilizer may be applied in mid-September but no later.

 

Healthy grass is the best defense against weeds. Avoid “weed and feed” products. Only apply herbicides to areas with weed infestations. Spot spray for weeds or use targeted herbicides for broadleaf weeds or grassy weeds that might emerge after pre-emergent herbicide use and make certain the label says you can use the product you want to use for the turf you have!

 

It's time again to begin watching for problems with brown patch and dollar spot in warm season grasses, especially if you had problems with one of them last year. 

 

Watch for and control fire ant infestations in the lawn. These get active as the soils warm to 70+ degrees. The best approach is to bait and then follow with a drench a week or so later.

 

If you plan to plant and establish a warm-season (centipede, zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine) lawn, the best time to plant is in the Spring and into Summer.  If you are planting Bermuda by seed, use the hulled seed at this time of year (you could seed with unhulled seed in the Fall but Fall planting is not recommended).  Wait until the Fall for establishment of cool-season grasses like tall fescue or rye overseeded on Bermuda. Our winters can sometimes be hard on St. Augustine turf, but also on Bermuda and centipede turfs. Re-seed or re-sod as necessary.

 

House Plants - Remove winter dust from leaves by gently rinsing with room temperature water.

 

Repot as needed, increase pot size by about 1". Leach excess fertilizers from soil with water.

 

Begin Summer fertilization of plants. Do not move plants outside until night temperatures remain over 60 degrees F. and don’t place in full sun!

 

Propagate house plants by cuttings or divisions. Fertilize potted amaryllis and keep in bright light to encourage new leaves.