April 2013 Garden To-Do List: Zones 10 & 11

Susan Wells
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USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Most young garden weeds can be pulled out easily when the soil is wet. Getting the root up is crucial. If you find that the weeds are breaking off at the crown as you pull, slip a forked dandelion puller or similar tool under the weed, and pry and twist as you pull it up. Weeds that have taproots, such as dandelion and plantain, usually must be pried out. Never use a tiller in soil infested with weeds that regrow from small pieces of root. They are easily spread by rototilling. Click on map at right to find your zone.

Vegetables

You can encourage the beneficial insects by adding the following herbs and flowers to the vegetable garden:  catnip, caraway, dill, fennel, thyme, yarrow, daisies, coneflower, cosmos, marigold, and zinnias. Carefully deadhead the spent flowers, as needed.

Diatomaceous earth can be used to naturally combat pests in the garden. Mix 1/4 cup in a gallon of water and spray it over the affected plants and the soil. The needle-like silica structure DE punctures the soft bodies of insects, causing dehydration. It does not bother earthworms, though, due to their bodies’ outer mucous layer of protection.

Though many new varieties of heat tolerant tomatoes lack taste, cherry tomatoes will continue to produce delicious veggies during hot weather.

Transplant warm-season vegetable seedlings.

Six varieties of blueberries grow reasonably well in the higher elevations of zones 10 & 11. Plant a number of different varieties and see which ones perform the best for your particular area. Try Biloxi, Emerald, Sharp Blue, or Sapphire. You will need to provide an acidic soil for them.

Flowers

Downy mildew fungus on impatiens can be reduced by irrigating with a drip system or by hand watering on the soil around the plants instead of using a sprinkler.

Roses will grow year-round when planted in well drained, organically enriched soil with several hours of daily sunlight. When choosing new roses, look for ones grafted on ‘Rosa fortuniana’ rootstock. This rootstock can handle high temperatures and the lack of dormancy roses experience here.  Maintain a pruning, feeding, and pest control schedule with your roses. Feeding should be done monthly with a balanced food. A few tablespoons of Epsom salts per rose bush provides magnesium for new cane growth. Always water immediately after fertilizing.

Plant alliums (chives, garlic, onions, shallots), parsley and marigolds near roses to help combat insect damage.

Roses cannot grow in dry soil and need a deep watering twice a week.

Use a liquid food for container grown plants.

Plant annuals for summer color and fall blooming bulbs, like gladiolas and dahlias.

Feed and water cacti and succulents that are blooming and growing.

Divide overgrown fall blooming perennials.

Trees

Feed your fruit trees with compost.

To get full-sized apples in zones 10 and 11, trees need a rest. Don’t let them fruit more than once a year. This means you will have to defoliate the trees during the cooler rainy season, leaving them bare for about six weeks before the dry season. Remove the bud ends to encourage new growth.

Because they do not have a dormant season, they can’t support the number of apples grown in cooler climates. Actively removing much of the fruit set will encourage larger apples.

Symptoms of iron deficiencies can show up as a yellowing of needles in pines growing in alkaline soil. Treat with chelated iron as directed by the manufacturer. Also apply garden sulfur to help acidify the soil.

Clear unwanted shrubbery for fire protection.

Using a spreader to apply Scotts Turf BuilderPrune spring flowering trees and shrubs after blooming.

Lawns

Feed and water lawns as growth accelerates.

Apply broadleaf weed killers in April. The weeds are tender and vulnerable. The mild temperatures make these products easier on the turf. Use the correct product for the type of lawn being treated.

Do not aerate or de-thatch this month. Waiting until May will allow the grass to grow and become more vigorous.

 

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