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GARDENING TIPS FOR SONOMA COUNTY


April 2019 Gardening Tips

www.thegardeningtutor.net - Clematis 'Multi-Blue'
Pink Buds of Jasminum polyanthum Vine Before they Open to White Flowers

April 2019

IRRIGATION SYSTEMS

    Although I wish it weren’t true, irrigation systems are interactive. Watering systems are not a chicken, you cannot just “set and forget” about your irrigation system, even though we would all like to do just that. Here are some tips to keep in mind when installing your own drip/spray system or when you hire someone else to install the system for you:

    • Take photos of each zone of installed lines before covering the lines with mulch.
    • Make sure that the watering zones are clearly marked on your control panel.
    • Before you hire someone to install your drip irrigation make a tutoring appointment with Mary first so you know the questions to ask and learn how to install irrigation to industry standards that encourage healthy plants and avoid future problems.

    At least every spring (in some cases, more often) before you need your drip irrigation system take the time to do the following:
    • Flush the system. Open the end of each mainline and turn on that zone for 30 seconds or so in order to flush out possible insects and debris that may have accumulated in the lines over time. If you are using well water for your drip irrigation, flushing the system is a good practice each season. Remember to reclose the main line before moving on to the next zone.
    • Turn on each zone one at a time and “walk the line”. Follow your main lines and observe where you see leaks, broken sprayers, and lines without emitters. Mark them and then repair them.
    • As your plants mature, look for emitters that need to be moved farther away from the base of your plant. Keeping the irrigation delivery towards the edge of the plant roots instead of close to the base of trees and shrubs will help to prevent root rot. In general, when plants reach maturity the drip emitters will be about half way between the base of the plant and the edge of the foliage (called the "dripline").

      Remember, in order to deliver the water that your plants need to thrive, it is generally better to run the drip system for a longer period of time (say, 45 minutes to an hour) a few times a week, rather than in short intervals several times a week. The run time also depends on the type of soil in your garden.

      Every environment is different and that is where the interaction between you, your plants, and your irrigation system plays a vital role for a healthy and beautiful garden.
    April 2019
    Gardening Checklist*
    What to SHOP for . . .
      Remember, when you shop for your plants this season, we are fortunate to have many small local nurseries from which to choose. Many times the selection, quality, and service are better than the larger stores.
    Checkbox Annuals - Lobelia, Cosmos, Cleome, Impatiens and Coleus (both later in month)
    Checkbox Perennials - Bergenia, Campanula portenschlagiana, Coreopsis, Dianthus (carnations), Dicentra spectabilis, Salvia (some are frost sensitive, plant those later in the month), Vinca minor ‘Atropurpurea’ (deep purple flowers)
    Checkbox Vines - Clematis hybrids (can repeat bloom), Wisteria, Jasminum polyanthum.
    Checkbox Veggie Seeds - Early corn, eggplant and cucumber can be planted later in the month. Carrot, beet and turnip anytime this month
     
    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Irrigation - Flush your drip irrigation system and check that all emitters are working properly. If you have too many emitters to check them all, keep a close eye on your plants throughout the season. By noticing changes in your plants early on you can adjust the irrigation before it's too late. Visit The Gardening Tutor YouTube channel for more irrigation tips.
    Checkbox Planting - We are getting towards the end of our ‘cool season’ in Sonoma County and are entering the ‘warm season’. Pansies, Iceland poppies, sweet peas, and calendula (among others) are ‘cool season’ annuals. If you need quick color for a party go ahead and plant some pansies; however, if you want color in your garden throughout the summer plant ‘warm season’ annuals. Once frost season has passed (frost season usually ends from mid to late April in Sonoma County) it's time to start planting your ‘warm season’ annuals such as, Celosia (Cockscomb), Cosmos, Lobelia, and Salpiglossis sinuate (painted tongue). If your garden tends to get frost, plant warm season annuals and other tender plants closer to the end of April.
    Checkbox Tomatoes - You may be eager to plant your tomato starts but remember that tomatoes are ‘warm season annuals’ here in Sonoma County. Generally our frost dates are from Halloween (end of October) to tax day (April 15). Here in the demo garden we can get hard frost as late as the first week in May! Just to be safe, Mary shops for tomato plants in April for the best selection but plants the tomato starts (small plants) the second week in May. If your garden tends to be frost free it may be safe for you to plant your starts this month.
    Checkbox Dahlias - Now that the soil is not as saturated it’s time to plant your Dahlia tubers. Dahlias like a rich, well draining soil. If your soil is not well draining, amend the soil with some good aged compost before planting. Also, if the mature size of your Dahlia is tall place the stake just to the side of the tuber when you plant. Or at least mark that spot so you can install a stake later without going through a tuber.
    Checkbox Pest Management - Did you set out your yellow jacket trap yet? If you entertain outside in the summer now is the time to set out your trap. Protect plants (especially vulnerable new plantings) from snails, slugs, earwigs, and sowbugs. Watch for ants climbing up the trunks of plants (especially shrubs and trees). Ants are usually a sign that you have some yummy aphids, scale, or other insects that the ants use for a honeydew food source. Controlling ants with bait or barrier products is preferred over using spray. Consider what pets are in your yard when deciding how to control ants.
    Checkbox Mulching - is high on the list of gardening tasks for April. Weeding too!
     

     

    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.
     

    The Gardening Tutor January 2019 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.


*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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in Sonoma County
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Hands-On Individualized Gardening Instruction and Consulting in Sonoma County