Jessica Damiano Jessica Damiano, Newsday columnist

Jessica Damiano is a master gardener and journalist with more than 25 years experience in radio, television, print and online media. She has worked on Newsday's interactive endeavors since 1994, and currently is Deputy Editor overseeing's Lifestyle and Entertainment coverage. Jessica enjoys toiling in her garden -- a never-finished work in progress -- and helping local gardeners solve their horticultural problems in her Garden Detective column, which appears every Sunday in Newsday. Her Garden Detective column and blog have been awarded Press Club of Long Island Society of Professional Journalists Awards. Jessica lives in Glen Head, NY, with her husband John, daughters Justine and Julia, dogs Maddie and Miguel, and a whole bunch of perennials, vegetable plants and weeds. Ask a question Show More

April is National Gardening Month, and as plants come out of dormancy, so do we. So strap on your knee pads, dust off your trowels and once again delight in the colors and scents of new life everywhere. It's been a long time coming!

1. Sow peas in the garden.

2. Pinch off the tips of leggy seedlings growing indoors to make them grow stockier.

3. Passover begins at sundown. Start parsley seeds indoors.

4. Prune rose of Sharon.

5. Happy Easter! Remove the yellow anthers from gift lilies, and they'll bloom longer without dirtying your tablecloth.

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6. Plant potatoes and sweet potatoes.

7. Plant raspberries and blackberries.

8. Install a drip-irrigation system; it's the best way to water your plants.

9. If it's cloudy, uncover wrapped or buried fig trees, and water. If it's sunny, try again tomorrow.

10. Plant strawberries in a sunny spot, but not where tomatoes, peppers or potatoes have grown in the past three years.

11. Divide crowded bog plants.

12. Remove spent flower heads from pansies to prolong their bloom time.

13. Deadhead rhododendrons immediately after flowering, and prune azaleas after they bloom.

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14. Till a generous helping of compost into prepared garden beds to add nutrients and improve drainage.

15. It's tax day and also the average last frost date on Long Island. Spend your refund on perennials and plant them outdoors.

16. If you're planning to move houseplants outdoors this summer, repot them now into a pot that's 2 inches wider.

17. Aerate the lawn and rake up debris, but don't lime unless a pH test indicates it's necessary.

18. Divide late-blooming perennials, like asters and Joe Pye weed.

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19. Pull weeds out by their roots before they take over.

20. Harden broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and lettuce seedlings by gradually increasing daily outdoor time over the next week before planting.

21. Rake out leaves and cut back last year's perennials to make way for new growth. Start a compost pile with the debris.

22. It's Earth Day! Start a compost pile. (Get instructions at

23. Scratch one-half cup of Epsom salt into the soil around roses to boost flower production and plant fullness.

24. Plant a tree, it's Arbor Day!

25. If garden mums are three or more years old, dig up and divide them when new growth is 4 inches tall.

26. Resist the temptation to remove foliage from spring bulb plants before it turns brown. The bulbs are busy storing food needed to bloom next year.

27. Want fuller vining houseplants? Pinch back stem tips now.

28. Plant seeds of annuals directly into the garden.

29. When forsythia blooms, it's time to apply pre-emergent crabgrass control like corn gluten meal.

30. Start mowing when grass is 3 inches tall, but don't fertilize until Memorial Day.