Start your tomato and pepper plants off right
Need help growing what you’ve just brought home from the 2012 Spring Garden Market? Just because you bought them on March 31 doesn’t mean you should run home and put them in the ground! Just how long should you wait? In which part of your garden will they thrive? Exactly how much water should they get and when? You should probably wait until May, but check out our suggestions for Growing Great Tomatoes (PDF) and Growing Great Peppers (PDF).
Did you miss our Spring Garden Market?
Wondering if there’ll be another chance to buy some of our wonderful plants? Good news–the answer is yes!. Mark your calendar for Spring in Guadalupe Gardens, Saturday April 28 starting at 10am.
Harden off all plants you grow indoors or buy
The process of hardening off plants allows plants to adapt from being in a stable, climate-controlled environment to surviving in a changeable, harsher environment. The way to do this is by moving small container plants to cooler environments gradually. Our climate here is not very extreme, so you might first want to put your seedlings outside (out of direct sunlight) and bring them back inside at night. The process should take about two weeks, at the end your plants should be fine spending the night outside and ready for the ground.
Check seedlings for signs of aphids
Plants started in greenhouses are susceptible to aphids because of the warm growing conditions. Check under all leaves, especially the tender new growth. Can you see aphids? Rub the leaves between your finger and thumb. Do you feel anything pop? Aphids are hard to see unless you’re looking for them. Simply remove them by hand or dunk your seedlings in water. Learn more about aphids and how to control them by reading the UC Aphid Pest Note.
If your peach or nectarine leaves are starting to curl, throw them in the trash
By now it’s too late to treat peach trees for leaf curl. But if your trees are susceptible, make a note to apply a copper-based spray after this year’s leaves drop, and possibly again (for severe problems) in February before the spring bloom. For this year, damaged leaves will eventually fall off and should be disposed of in the trash. New leaves that are produced are generally fine, but the vigor of the tree may suffer. For more information see UC Pest Note on Leaf Curl.
Managing soil for your acid-loving plants
It’s time to pay attention to your azaleas, blueberries, camellias, gardenias and rhododendrons, and any other plant that prefers acidic soil. According to an article (PDF) provided by UC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, “never guess about pH correction. Always have the soil analyzed for pH and for phosphorous and potassium to be sure that correction is needed before making any application… In home garden situations, pH can best be lowered by the addition of elemental sulfur. For each 100 square feet to be treated, sandy soils will require about 3/4 pound of sulfur for each full pH point above 4.5; loams will require 1-1/2 to 2 pounds; and clay soils will require 3 or more pounds. The acidification process is slow, so treatment at least six months before planting is suggested.”
On a related note, the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension has an article on whether pine needles (and oak leaves) will acidify your soil. “Believe it or not, this is fiction, a myth. Pine needles do not make the soil more acidic. This bit of garden lore is so common that almost everyone believes it, including many professionals.” Check our website for a list of soil testing labs (PDF).
Remember to mulch before the dry season
There are lots of reasons to use mulch in your garden. Mulching plants will reduce maintenance, minimize water usage, equalize temperature and improve soil quality. While we hope for more rain, we need to prepare for the six-month-long rainless season ahead of us.
Codling moth can ruin the delight of biting into a fresh picked apple
Codling moth problems are difficult to manage once you have them. It’s better to keep the numbers low to begin with. If your apples have been affected in past years, refer to the UC codling moth pest note for tips to keep the population down. The best way is by removing infested fruit and the labor-intensive process of bagging fruit. Traps are also available that attract coddling moth. If you plan on planting apple or pear trees, consider looking for a less-susceptible variety.
April is a good time to fertilize citrus
But remember, most soils contain adequate nutrients for productive growth of citrus with the possible exception of nitrogen. Refer to the UC Pest Notes site for suggested application rates of nitrogen. Homemade compost is the best source of food for your entire garden.
Events — Multiple Locations
(Also see listings below for events in North, Central and South sections of Santa Clara County.)
Going Native Garden Tour – April 21 and April 22
Saturday, 4/21, 10:00am-4:00pm, Free
The northwest portion of the tour (Sunnyvale to Hillsborough) takes place on Saturday, April 21, 2012, while the southeast portion (Cupertino, San Jose, etc.) is held on Sunday, April 22, 2012. The tour hours are 10AM to 4PM each day. Register at gngt.org. You’ll get the full list of gardens, addresses and garden descriptions before the tour.
Bay-Friendly Garden Tour
Sunday, 4/29, 10:00am-4:00pm, $10, Gardens throughout Santa Clara County, from Palo Alto to San Jose
Visit a new crop of Bay-Friendly Gardens on this self-guided tour. Over twenty public and private gardens will be featured in geographic clusters throughout San Jose and Palo Alto.Registration is required. After you register, you’ll receive a pamphlet with addresses and garden descriptions in the mail.
San Jose and Central County Events
Hotline and Plant Clinic at the Los Gatos Farmer’s Market
Sunday, 4/1, 9:00am-1:00pm, Free, Los Gatos Farmers Market, adjacent to downtown Town Park Plaza, Los Gatos
Drop by the Master Gardeners’ table at the Los Gatos Farmers Market to ask questions, look at interesting specimens through the microscope, and get inspired! Fun and educational for kids and adults.
How to Mulch Properly
Wednesday, 4/4, 6:30pm-7:30pm, Free, Evergreen Branch Library, 2635 Aborn Rd., San Jose
Come learn about mulching, one of the most beneficial things you can do for your plants and soil. Mulch can reduce water loss, minimize weed competition, improve soil structure, and give landscapes a handsome, well-groomed appearance.
Sustainable Vegetable Gardening – A 6-Week Adult Ed Course
Monday, 4/9, 6:30pm-8:30pm, $70, Adult Education Center (behind Fremont High), 591 West Fremont Avenue, Sunnyvale
Join UCCE Master Gardeners for a six-week series about sustainable vegetable gardening. Learn how to grow a successful, environmentally responsible food garden that produces delicious vegetables every month of the year. The course meets in six two-hour sessions, Mondays, April 9 – May 21, 6:30-8:30 PM. Register online at or call 408-522-2700.
Saturday, 4/14, 11:00am-1:00pm, Free, Berryessa Branch Library, 3355 Nobel Ave., San Jose
Learn the basics of container gardening: soil, water, fertilizer, container materials, container sizes, and common pests. The session will also cover a wide variety of plants that do particularly well in containers.
The Incredible Edibles: Squash, Cucumbers and Melon
Wednesday, 4/18, 6:30pm-8:00pm, free, West Valley Branch Library, 1243 San Tomas Aquino Rd., San Jose
Squash, cucumber and melon are easy, prolific summer vegetables you will love to grow. Join Master Gardener Janet Waagen to learn about varieties and tips on harvesting – including when to harvest squash blossoms.
Saturday, 4/21, 10:00am-12:00pm, $25, Prusch Farm Park, 647 S King Rd., San Jose
Master Gardener Jim Maley will give useful advice on selecting, cultivating, and harvesting both hot and sweet peppers that grow well in our area. Registration required: call 408-794-6262.
Container Gardening: Ornamentals and Vegetables
Saturday, 4/21, 10:00am-12:00pm, $15 ($10 members), Guadalupe River Park & Gardens Visitor & Education Center, 438 Coleman Avenue, San Jose
Learn basics of container gardening: soil, water, fertilizer, container materials, container sizes, and common pests. Space is limited, so reserve your spot early by signing up online, via email at email@example.com, or 408-298-7657.
Fourth Annual Cupertino Earth Day Festival
Saturday, 4/21, 11:00am-3:00pm, Free, Cupertino Civic Center Plaza, 10800 Torre Ave., Cupertino
This is the fourth year for this popular annual event in Cupertino, with information about going green at booths from local businesses and non-profits. Drop by the Master Gardener tables with your gardening questions!
Pay Attention to the Fundamentals
Saturday, 4/21, 1:00pm-3:00pm, Free, Sunnyvale Teaching and Demonstration Garden, 433 Charles St., Sunnyvale
Join us to learn about garden microclimates, taking care of your soil, and more. We’ll discuss a number of important topics to help you establish a good foundation for your garden. A tomato planting demonstration will follow the talk.
Full Circle Farm Earth Day – Come say hi at the Master Gardener booth!
Sunday, 4/22, 11:00am-4:00pm, Free, Full Circle Farm, 1055 Dunford Way, Sunnyvale
Join Full Circle Farm, your friends and your neighbors for a fun day in the sun at the annual Earth Day Fair at Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale. We’re happy to join Full Circle Farm again this year with our Info table, children’s activities and more.
Plant Propagation for the Home Gardener
Wednesday, 4/25, 6:30pm-8:00pm, Free, Vineland Branch Library, 1450 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
In this talk, Master Gardener Janet Waagen will acquaint you with various types of propagation techniques that you can use, including stem, leaf, and root cuttings, layering and plant division.
The Second Annual District 4 Family Day at the Berryessa Farmers Market
Saturday, 4/28, 9:00am-1:00pm, Free, Berryessa Farmers Market, 1376 Piedmont Road, San Jose
Join us at this community celebration of healthy eating and healthy living featuring over forty family booths, special attractions, and activity booths for children. Drop by the Master Gardener booth with your gardening questions!
Spring in Guadalupe Gardens
Saturday, 4/28, 10:00am-3:00pm, Free, Guadalupe Gardens, 438 Coleman Ave., San Jose
Visit Guadalupe Gardens for our annual spring festival, with 40+ vendors selling plants, garden art, and more. Stroll through the Heritage Rose Garden in full bloom.
Saturday, 4/28, 12:00pm-2:00pm, Free, Santa Clara Central Park Library, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara
Last session of the month to learn about gardening in containers! We’ll present the basics of container gardening: soil, water, fertilizer, container materials, container sizes, and common pests. The session will also cover a wide variety of plants that do particularly well in containers.
South County Events
Grow Your Own Food
Tuesday, 4/10, 7:00pm-9:00pm, Free, Holistic Moms Network, The Loft Family Enrichment Center, 16360 Monterey Street, Suite 210, Morgan Hill
Learn how to plan, plant, care for and harvest an urban or kitchen garden to bring fresh produce to your table year round, no matter where you live. This is a fun, satisfying family activity!
Spring Garden Detective – What’s “bugging” my plants – or what is that disease?
Thursday, 4/12, 7:00pm-9:00pm, Free, Grange Hall, 8191 Swanston Lane, Gilroy
Master Gardeners will bring a microscope and hand lens to our South County Roundtable for our Spring Garden Detective brush-up. This is a special training for Master Gardeners but the public is warmly invited. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own hand lens and specimens from their garden (in a sealed baggie) for all to observe.
Growing and propagating herbs
Saturday, 4/28, 10:00am-12:00pm, Free, South County Demonstration Garden, Saint Louise Regional Hospital, 9400 No Name Uno, Gilroy
Learn how to grow and propagate your own culinary herbs. We’ll show you how herbs can be combined with your existing landscape, vegetable garden or container garden while attracting pollinators and beneficial insects.