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Gardening Tips: April

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Fertilize perennials:
In order to retain your established perennials’ appearance, apply a slow-release fertilizer by scratching it in around the newly emerging perennials. Most perennials are very heavy feeders and this will provide a full season of fertilizing. This fertilizer may also be applied to ornamental grasses to give them good color and vigorous growth

Edging and mulching:
With the spring season here, it is time for edging and mulching. Edging is done either by hand or with a machine; this creates a distinct, physical definition between bed and lawn area and prevents grass from growing into the beds. Mulch should be applied to all bed areas. 1 to 2 inches should be applied to existing beds making sure that mulch is pulled back away from the crown of the plant to avoid crown rot. Mulch is applied for many reasons–it helps to control weeds; as it breaks down, it supplies organic material for the plants; it holds moisture, and it insulates the soil from extreme temperatures.

Crabapple scab:
Crabapple scab is a disease of some older variety of crabapples. This disease causes premature leaf drop; the fruit is covered with scabby lesions, hence the disease name. Applying a fungicide at leaf break and again at petal drop is the best way to try and control this disease. To minimize this disease, plant disease resistant cultivars like Adams, Adirondack, Bob White, David, Donald Wyman, Prairiefire, Professor Springer, Red Jewel, Red Jade, Sugar Tyme, and Sargentii cv Tina.

Container gardening:
Even the smallest patio or porch can support a vegetable or flower garden in containers. Window boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets, or large flower pots are just some of the containers that can be used. Picking the right pot is very important to your success, cheap plastic pots may deteriorate in UV sunlight and terracotta is very fragile and tends to dry out quickly. Glazed ceramic pots are a very good choice but be sure they have plenty of drainage holes. Make sure your pots are large enough they should be 15 to 120 quart capacity; small pots become root bound and dry out rapidly. The size and number of plants used will determine the size of container, deep root vegetable need deep pots. Make sure your potting medium drains quickly but retains enough moisture to keep roots evenly moist. Most gardeners use a soilless mix, it drains quickly and is very lightweight, and also it is disease and weed seed free. The problem with soilless mixes is the plants deplete the nutrients very quickly, so top dressing with a slow-release fertilizer and using liquid fertilizer though the season will really help. The varieties of annuals and perennials used in containers is endless, when growing vegetables there are a lot of varieties that are smaller type plants that work much better in container. Salad greens such as leaf lettuces, radishes, spring onions, baby carrots, and even peppers and tomatoes are very easily grown in containers. Also growing an herb garden in container very easy, you can grow a number of varieties in one container.

Black spot on roses:
Preventive fungicide sprays are very important for controlling black spot fungus on hybrid tea roses. This application should occur every two weeks. There are a lot of good products on the market. Ortho Rose Pride Funginex, Bayer Advanced Rose, Tree and Shrub Fungicide are some of the better ones.