Magazine article Sunset

What to Do in Your Garden in April

Magazine article Sunset

What to Do in Your Garden in April

Article excerpt

PLANTING

* Bare-root perennials. Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-17: Before planting perennials you've ordered from mail-order sources, remove any packing medium and carefully untangle roots. Dig a hole about twice the width of the rootball and build a cone of soil in the center. Set the roots atop the cone, then refill the hole, burying roots to just below where new foliage emerges.

* Drought-tolerant shrubs. Zones 7-9, 14-17: It's not too late to plant ceanothus, cotoneaster, Fremontodendron, manzanita, and rosemary. Dig planting holes the same depth as the rootball and at least twice as wide. Unless your soil is extremely sandy, it's usually better to plant in unamended soil. After planting, add a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plants, keeping it about an inch away from trunks and stems.

* Heirloom tomatoes. Zones 7-9, 14-17: Prized for their rich flavor, heirloom tomatoes such as 'Brandywine' are becoming more widely available as seedlings in retail nurseries. If you can't find the variety you're looking for, check out Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Plants (www.heirloomtomatoplants.com or 310/534-8611); owner Laurel Garza sells organically grown seedlings of 200 heirloom varieties. For cooler coastal areas such as San Francisco, she suggests 'Carmello', 'Goose Creek', and 'Sunset's Red Horizon'. For warmer regions of the Bay Area and Sacramento, she likes 'Eva Purple Ball' and 'Paul Robeson'.

MAINTENANCE

* Compost. As you groom the garden, add trimmings to the compost pile along with fruit and vegetable waste. To help the plant material break down faster, chop or shred it into smaller pieces, then toss it onto the pile, alternating 6-inch layers of brown material (dry leaves, straw, and tree prunings) with 6-inch layers of green matter (fresh lawn clippings and weeds without seed heads). Keep the pile as damp as a wrung-out sponge and turn it frequently. …

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