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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Garden Detective: A tip or chore for every day in April

Spring magnolia blooming in the warm, sunny weather.

Spring magnolia blooming in the warm, sunny weather.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/m.brainard

The curtain rises on the garden in April. As buds burst, bulbs bloom and birds fill the air with song, we’re reminded that despite our hardships, there’s still beauty in the world. Spring is here, time for gardeners to get busy. But first, breathe in fresh air, enjoy the warmth of the sun, and take in the sights, sounds and scents. Tending to these chores and tips will give your future self the gifts of fruit, vegetables, blossoms — and much-needed joy. 

1. Don’t be an April Fool! Established lawns don’t need watering yet. Wait until next month.

2. Be vigilant about ticks — they’re still out there. Cover skin in high-risk areas, and do body checks when leaving.

3. Get raspberries and blackberries into the ground.

4. Plant asparagus in tilled soil in a trench that’s 18 inches wide and deep.

5. Prune rose of Sharon.

6. When forsythia blooms on your side of the block, apply pre-emergent crabgrass control. For a natural option, try corn gluten meal.

7. Plant seed potatoes and sweet potatoes into the garden.

8. If today is cloudy, uncover the fig tree. Otherwise, wait until the next overcast day. Then water deeply.

9. Happy Passover! Plant horseradish root cuttings directly into the garden.

10. Start parsley seeds indoors.

11. Plant strawberries outdoors, and be sure to protect plants from wildlife with netting.

12. Happy Easter! Set the table with gift lilies, hyacinths and hydrangeas. Keep watering, and plant in the garden late next month.

13. If seedlings are getting impatient indoors, growing leggy, pinch off their tips.

14. Start planting perennials.

15. It’s the average last frost day on Long Island. The danger of frost hasn't passed, so plant accordingly: Greens, OK. Tomatoes, no way.

16. If you’ve received them, plant bare-root roses immediately.

17. Plant grapes. Be sure to install a trellis system to support growing vines.

18. If bog plants are crowded, divide them.

19. Don't automatically apply lime to the lawn (or allow your landscaper to do so.) It’s only needed when the pH is below 6.3 or if moss is present.

20. Divide fall perennials.

21. Harden off broccoli, cauliflower and kale seedlings: Gradually increase outdoor exposure by an hour each day for a week, then transplant in garden.

22. It’s Earth Day! Install soaker hoses or a drip-irrigation system for Earth-, plant- and wallet-friendly watering.

23. Start a compost pile. Learn how at nwsdy.li/StartComposting.

24. It’s the first full day of Ramadan. Break fast with an omelet made with spinach harvested from your garden. And plant a tree — it’s Arbor Day!

25. Replace (or enhance) the lawn with micro clover. Find tips at nwsdy.li/CloverLawn.

26. Incorporate a generous helping of compost into prepared vegetable beds to improve drainage and add nutrients.

27. If you’ll be giving houseplants an outdoor vacation next month, repot into a container that’s 2 inches larger.

28. Keep on top of weeds before they get out of control.

29. Divide too-big garden mums when new growth reaches 4 inches tall.

30. Start mowing the lawn if it’s 3 inches tall; there’s no need to fertilize until Memorial Day.

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