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Your Regional Garden News - Zone 7

April 1 to April 30

 

Discover what you should be doing right now.  Our experts share gardening advice, techniques, news, and ideas to make your garden the best ever.  

Here's what's happening in your gardening region:

 

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    Learn about growing tomatoes

    April is the time for Zone 7 and Zone 8 gardeners to get serious about tomatoes. You can plant these plants from transplants or you can direct-sow them in the garden. (Plant seeds directly in the garden.) That is a somewhat unorthodox view of how you can grow tomatoes but it works! However, if that idea makes you nervous, plant them the traditional way. Our videos will help you learn which tomatoes are right for your garden, (Do you have room for larger indeterminate tomatoes or do you need to plant determinate varieties?), how to plant tomatoes once you’ve determined which ones are right for your garden, and how to train and stake the tomatoes once they’re growing.

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    Plant a butterfly garden

    Plant perennials now so that they have a chance to grow and establish themselves before hot and humid weather. There are plenty of annual plants that butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy, but why not plant perennials that will come back year after year? These three selections are nectar plants for adult butterflies, and if you plant them you’ll have blooms for butterflies from spring, starting with the Gaura, through fall, ending with the Aster. Want even more butterflies? Plant some host plants, which feed the babies (caterpillars). Parsley, dill, and fennel are all great host plants.

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    Order warm-weather vegetable seeds

    When winter finally ends, you’ll want to be ready to plant your warm-weather vegetable seeds. These vegetables grow best when soil temperatures are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Green beans are a favorite for everyone. For an unusual twist, try quick-pickling them on the stove with apple cider vinegar. Golden Egg Hybrid Summer Squash is a yellow zucchini variety that tastes great when stuffed with fragrant herbed stuffing and parmesan cheese and baked. If you like making your own salsa, you’ll want to try growing Tomatillos. Chop them up and throw them in your regular salsa. They are also sweet-tart when grilled on kebobs.

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    Learn about plant care: watering and pruning

    Planting is only the first step in gardening. Once everything’s in, you have to keep it alive! Mastering the technique of watering properly is probably the single most important thing to learn about gardening. There’s a fine line between watering too little, just right, and not enough. If you have a large garden, fast-draining soil, or problems with drought, drip irrigation is your friend. Learn how to install your own system. This will especially help with vegetable gardening. Another garden task coming up is shrub pruning, particularly for spring-blooming shrubs. You prune these right after they’re finished flowering which, for things like Azaleas and Forsythia, will be soon.

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    What you need to train and stake vining vegetables

    These tools will help you train and stake everything from beans to cucumbers to tomatoes. If you grow vining vegetables up off the ground you’ll get a bigger harvest and have fewer problems with pests and diseases. (Though squash family plants are beloved by plenty of pests and diseases.) By growing up, you’re at least giving the plants a better chance. Always place cages and supports in the garden right after planting so that the plants can immediately begin growing up or through them. It isn’t fun to wrestle a fully grown tomato into a cage.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • New gardeners can’t go wrong with annual flowers. Planted in average soil and deeply watered once a week, annuals will provide a summer’s worth of wonderful blooms. Started from seed or set out as transplants, these winners will really perform if a few inches of compost are worked into the soil before planting.

    Try wax-leaf begonia in partial shade. Cleome is perfect for the background where it gets full sun. Impatiens is wonderful in the shade. Lantana loves hot weather with flowers from yellow to orange to lavender. Torenia, or wishbone flower, is a relatively new ""toughie."" It grows best in partial shade loves heat. Zinnias are tough sun lovers that really put on a show in a variety of colors.