April is the first full month of spring, and it is the time when garden planting kicks into high gear. Plant smart now for months of beautiful flowers and a bounty of vegetables, say experts at Agromin, an Oxnard-based manufacturer of earth-friendly compost products made from organic material collected from more than 50 California cities including cities throughout Santa Barbara County.
» Plant color for summer: Summer-blooming bedding should be planted in April. Annuals that bloom all summer include alyssum, amaranthus, dahlia, daisies, gloriosa, marigolds, morning glory, petunia, statice, sunflowers, verbena and zinnia.
» Plant heat-loving vegetables: No need to spend money on vegetable plants. With a little patience, you can plant vegetables from seed now for vegetables by June. Vegetables that do particularly well from seed are beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, green beans, melons, okra, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes and radishes.
» Plant citrus trees: Choose a location that gets full sun and is protected from wind. Make sure the soil is well draining. Place the root ball of the tree in the planting hole so it is about an inch higher than surrounding soil. Fill with natural and amended soil. Remove most of the fruit that may be on the tree to avoid transplant shock. Keep your citrus tree well watered during its first year. Its roots will eventually borough deep and typically only require watering in hot summer months.
» Start your herb garden: An herb garden can be a cost-effective way to enjoy all your favorite tastes through fall. Store-bought herbs can be expensive, Basil, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, chives, dill and tarragon are just some herb favorites that are easy-to-grow and should be planted now.
» Add mulch: Mulch can be a big water saver — extending the watering cycle an extra one to two days depending on weather conditions. First, work in old mulch into the soil. Next, add three inches of new mulch around plants to keep roots cool and moist. Make sure the mulch does not touch plants.
» Plant your garden with your kids: Gardens are great learning tools. Most kids enjoy the wonders of watching vegetables grow. Let them choose the vegetables they want to plant and make the kids responsible for the plant’s care and upkeep. Their hard work will make the resulting vegetables taste that much better.
» Rotate crops: Farmers rotate their crops, gardeners should too. Rotating crops (i.e., place tomato plants where peppers were grown last year) helps maintain the delicate balance between nutrients, organic material and microorganisms that is necessary for healthy soil.
— Diane Rumbaugh is a publicist representing Agromin.