April is a gardener's delight, but don't let warm days lull you into planting frost-tender annuals and vegetables. Frost is a possibility into May. Keep an eye on weather forecasts and consider your garden's elevation and microclimate conditions such as shade/wind/frost pockets.
Acclimate nursery-grown starts to your garden by placing them out for increasing periods daily, but protect them at night. With mild weather they can be planted in a week. Protect them when the temperature dips below freezing.
To have beauty above ground, pay attention to what goes on below. Better root development means healthier plants all summer because plants have more access to water and nutrients. Loosen soil with organic matter, add balanced fertilizer, mychorrizal supplement if needed and maintain proper moisture levels,
You can plant summer containers now if you protect them at night. Wait until the end of the month to plant the most frost-tender plants. Reserve their space in the planter by placing a small empty container into their spot to keep it root free.
Consider including water-absorbing polymer additives in planting boxes and containers. More organic matter will retain moisture and a mulch on soil in containers will reduce water loss. Use small flat rocks as an attractive alternative to woody mulch.
Add beneficial bacteria to ponds. Monitor water temperature and begin feeding fish at 50 degrees.
KITCHEN GARDEN AND ORCHARD
New gardeners should get a copy of "Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley," the matchless handbook by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association. Learn about local soil, how to fertilize, and the best varieties of vegetables and when to plant them. Available in garden centers or through the Oregon State University Extension. Call 541-776-7371.
Seeds: Lots to plant this month: beets, leeks, radishes, potatoes, peas, chard, chives, kale and lettuce. Start seeds for warm weather crops, such as basil, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, cantaloupe and tomatoes, indoors or in a greenhouse.
Transplants for this month are broccoli, cabbage and lettuce. Starting mid-month, put tomatoes out if you can protect them from frost.
Sharpen and tune your mower and other lawn equipment. Get your irrigation equipment checked. Mulch around trees to prevent grass from spreading and competing with the tree for nutrients.
Consider thatching and aerating to renew established lawns. Overseed thin lawns or bare patches. Water as needed, so seeds can sprout and get a foothold.
The Master Gardener Spring Fair Book Shack is looking for used books to help benefit The Jackson County Master Gardener Association scholarship fund. Topics include gardening and landscape, bees, birds, butterflies, insects, rocks, varmints, wildlife, worms, "how to" books, arts and crafts, cookbooks, canning and preserving, wine, winemaking, health and all children's books. No magazines. Books will be sold at the Spring Fair, May 1-2, Jackson County Expo & Fairgrounds, Central Point. Call 541-776-7371 for info.
"Birdify Your Garden" with landscaping the feathered crew will love. Learn from Klamath Bird Observatory staff how to attract birds and provide them with what they need. Class is April 15 at North Mountain Park Nature Center in Ashland, 7 to 8 p.m.. Cost is $5. Registration required. For details, go online at http://ashlandparks.recware.com or call the Nature Center at 541-488-6606.
AT THE OSU EXTENSION:
April 8: Discover which insects to expect in your garden month by month, how to recognize them and the organic controls. Taught by Master gardener Marsha Waite, Time is 7 to 9 p.m. Cost is $5.
April 22: Spark up your menu with herbs. Master gardener Ellen Scannell, family food educator and member of the Herb Society of America, will inspire you and your menu, 7 to 9 p.m. Fee is $10.
April 26: Get the lowdown on high-pressure canning before your garden starts producing. Volunteers will check your equipment's gauges. Class held 9 a.m. to noon. Fee is $10.
GARDEN CLUB MEETINGS
Monday, April 5
Rock gardening basics
Phyllis Gustafson, author
Central Point (541-664-1726)
Tuesday, April 6
Rookie vegetable gardening
Thursday, April 15
What's new in gardening?
Pam Rouhier, Grange Co-op
Friday, April 16
Baldassare Mineo, author
Saturday, April 3
Basic soil conditioning for successful gardening
Stan Mapolski, aka The Rogue Gardener
Siskiyou Koi and Pond Club (541-245-9357 or 541-779-3644)
Monday, April 12
Elsie Richardson, president of the Pacific Northwest Koi Club Association
April Garden Calendar