Click to Go Back to Homepage

Tom's Monthly Gotta-Do's


Bookmark and Share Printable Version Printable

Keeping a garden growing takes a little work. It’s always amazing how many new planters think they can put the seeds and transplants in the ground and come back in a few weeks to harvest the crops. Extension agents see many dwarf corn plants, yellow pepper leaves and rotten tomatoes that could be prevented with some care.

One organic gardening friend told me, you need to spend at least five minutes a day in the garden looking and enjoying. He said if you do, you will spend an hour or more. Gardening is that fascinating.

Part of your time needs to be spent pulling weeds, renewing mulches, watering and fertilizing. Vegetables and flowers need regular feedings to produce the crops or bouquets. If you are using a standard quick release fertilizer, a feeding is normally applied once every 3 to 4 weeks. If you use a slow release product follow the label but feedings may only be needed once every season or two.

Now take an even closer look at your plants. Frequent visits may find insects starting to feed on the foliage or fruits. A few might be hand picked and others may need a spray. There are many natural sprays available that if applied before the pests become well established can do a good job. Even with natural products the labels are the law, so follow them carefully.

Getting out in the garden is part of the fun of rasing plants. Now, there are many chores to be performed and I have prepared a list for you in this month’s Gotta Do’s


Tom's Gotta Do's for April, 2017:

Lawn care:

- Spring weather arrived early; complete the feeding of all lawns
- Weed & feeds can be substituted for regular feedings.
-. Fertilized but yellow lawns can often be regreened with an iron only application.
- Read labels carefully when applying weed control products; note lawn type & weeds controlled.
- Know your weeds and the herbicides that provide control; make applications as instructed.
- It’s the dry time of the year; water lawns as permitted when the blades begin to shrivel.
- Adjust sprinklers to avoid sidewalks and roadways and water only the turf.
- Apply up to three-quarters of an inch of water at each irrigation.
- April is a good time to install new sod especially in the more shady spots.
- New lawns can also be seeded and installed as plugs of turf at this time.
- Apply a turf fungicide to newly sodded lawns to prevent leaf spot and rot problems.
- Check the soil acidity of all home lawns; adjust the pH if needed.
- Starter fertilizers can be used with new lawns to supply phosphorus for root growth.
- A mild winter means chinch bug controls are often needed for St. Augustine lawns.
- Remove excessive quantities of tree leaves from home lawns before mowing.
- Grass is a ground cover; expect to keep it in bounds with frequent edging.
- Check your mowing height and adjust the mower to the proper level.
- Aerate lawns and remove thatch if needed.
- Don’t fight the shade; consider another ground cover for these problem spots.

Landscape chores:

- Work to do needed trimming before plants make lots of growth
- Good pruning cuts are back to a bud, branch angle, trunk or to the ground
- Prune azaleas as soon as flowering is over and before June.
- Consider allowing most shrubs to take a natural look and leave shearing to hedges.
- Redirect the growth of out of bounds shoots and thin trees and shrubs as needed.
- Keep palms healthy; only remove the brown fronds plus fruiting stems as needed.
- Sterilize pruners between palms with alcohol or bleach to prevent disease.
- Rake and use leaves as mulch or compost them for later use in the gardens.
- Plant a tree, shrub or vine on National Arbor Day April 28.
- Remove declining cool season annuals and add spring warm weather selections
- Make sure the root balls of all plant are moist at planting time.
- Build berms at the edge of root balls of new trees and shrubs to direct water to the roots.
- Give all poinsettias a spring trimming; repot new ones or add them to the landscape.
- Maintain 2- to 3-inch mulch layers with trees and shrubs; one inch in flower beds.
- Water annuals and perennials when the soil begins to dry or they show signs of wilting.
- Use slow release fertilizers that can feed landscape plants for months.
- Palms need special feedings; use fertilizers made for palms every 3 to 4 months.
- Inspect older trees and trim as needed before the hurricane season begins.
- Be safe; have an arborist do the pruning of larger and older trees.
- Trim old flower stalks from amaryllis, amazon lilies and other spring flowering plants.
- New amaryllis plants can be grown in a bit larger container or added to a garden site.
- Divide perennials before the really hot weather arrives.
- Groom climbing roses by removing out of bounds shoots and declining portions.

Fruit & vegetable plantings:

- Select larger tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants for the garden
- Remove cool season crops completing their harvests and add the seeded crops.
- Store packs of unplanted seeds in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Many gardeners are growing plants in containers; use large containers for large plants.
- Fill container gardens with a good quality potting soil.
- Clean containers and start with new soil at each major planting
- Apply a slow release fertilizer to the surface of the soil as instructed on the label.
- Consider growing some vegetables hydroponically.
- Just a bit of chilly weather turned banana leaves yellow; remove as needed.
- Trim tropical fruits unaffected by cold as needed to keep them in bounds.
- Citrus greening has become a devastating problem; remove severely affected trees.
- Control citrus psyllids at each flush of growth; use sprays or soil treatments as instructed.
- Apply minor nutrient sprays to citrus trees at each flush of growth.
- Finish granular spring feedings of all fruit trees.
- Start sweet potatoes to have transplants for May.
- Pant tropical vegetables that won’t mind the summer heat and humidity.
- Complete herb plantings before hot weather arrives; many grow best in containers.
- Feed vegetable plantings lightly every 3 to 4 weeks or use a slow release fertilizer as labeled.
- Help maintain a moist soil with a 2- to 3-inch mulch layer with all but citrus.

Foliage & Indoor plants:

- Winter weary foliage plants would love a filtered sun location outdoors to recover.
- Groom to reshape and remove declining portions.
- Repot foliage plants that have outgrown their containers.
- Trim Christmas and holiday cactus if needed to keep compact; root the cuttings.
- Give foliage plants a spring feeding with a slow release fertilizer.
- Wash away dust and insects from leaves and stems.
- Insects like scales, mealy bugs & thrips may need an insecticidal soap or oil spray for control.
- Move orchids & bromeliads outdoors to a shady location.
- Repot orchids & bromeliads when they begin spring growth as needed and begin feedings.
- Consider using foliage plants for shady landscape sites.

April 2017 Plantings

Flowers: African daisy, ageratum, aster, bacopa, balsam, begonia, black-eyed Susan, blue daze, browallia, bush daisy, cat's whiskers, celosia, cleome, coleus, coreopsis, cosmos, crossandra, dahlberg daisy, gazania, gaillardia, gerbera, goldenrod, impatiens, Joseph's coat, lantana, licorice plant, lisianthus, marigold, melampodium, Mexican sunflower, million bells, moon flower, nicotiana, nierembergia, pentas, periwinkle, porterweed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflower, torenia and zinnia.

Vegetables: Calabaza, cantaloupe, cassava, chayote, cherry tomato, cucumber, dasheen, eggplant, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, lima bean, malabar spinach, malanga, New Zealand spinach, okra, pepper, roselle, Seminole pumpkin, snap beans, squash, Southern pea, sweet potato, tamarillo, yam and yard-long bean.

Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, borage, cardamom, chives, coriander, dill, borage, edible ginger, lemon balm, oregano, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram and thyme.

Bulbs: Asiatic lilies, achimenes, African iris, agapanthus, amaryllis, Amazon lily, blackberry lily, blood lily, bulbine, caladium, canna, crinum, dahlia, eucharis lily, gingers, gladioli, gloriosa lily, society garlic, tuberous begonias, and rain lily.

© 1998-2018 Florida News Network.
All rights reserved.