Gardening essentials for April – SFGate

This month it’s time to make some tough choices. Gardening season may be beginning in earnest, but with drought in the forecast this summer it’s time to decide what should get water and what should be allowed to die. Get to weeding promptly. Weeds pull moisture out of the soil, depriving valuable plants of the root growth they should be making now to survive the summer.

– Plant summer bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers such as agapanthus, amaryllis, tuberous begonias, callas, cannas, dahlias, gladiolus and tigridia.

– Set out container-grown, summer-blooming annuals and perennials such as cosmos, impatiens, marigold and petunia. Wait until the weather is warmer before planting heat-loving plants such as aster, dwarf dahlia or zinnia.

– Sow seeds of summer- and fall-blooming annuals.

– In the vegetable garden, set out seedlings, particularly plants that take a long time to fruition such as tomato, pepper or eggplant seedlings.

– Sow seeds for beans, carrots, Swiss chard, corn, cucumbers and radishes.

– Plant herbs such as parsley, mint and basil.

– Thin fruit when it is as big as a dime in order to produce larger fruit.

– Spring and winter blooming bulbs such as daffodils and tulips are finishing their bloom, but do not cut off the fading green foliage. The foliage produces the nutrients needed for next year’s blooms. Allow the foliage to wither and yellow. Hide the fading foliage by covering it with spreading annuals such as petunia or sweet alyssum.

– Bait or handpick snails on an overcast, damp morning. Don’t let these eating machines get a foothold in your garden.

– Set out rolled newspapers at night to trap earwigs. The next morning collect and dispose of the newspapers in a covered garbage can.

Spring garden markets

Spring brings a return of hope for a garden full of homegrown tomatoes. And spring also brings the Bay Area’s Master Gardener tomato seedling markets to start you toward that goal. Here is this year’s crop of markets, all taking place April 12.

Marin County

Master gardeners will be on hand to help you select the best heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties for your needs and answer planting and care questions from 9:30 a.m. to noon at Bon Air Shopping Center, 50 Bon Air Center in Greenbrae and at Pini Market, 1435 S. Novato Blvd., in the Nave Shopping Center, Novato. For more information, plus tips on growing tomatoes, go to

San Francisco / San Mateo counties

Popular tomatoes, pepper and other vegetable starts will be available as well as flowers, including pollinator-friendly plants and herbs. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Redwood High School, 1968 Old Country Road, Redwood City.

Master Gardeners will offer guidance on container/small-space edible gardening, beneficials and edible flowers, and much more. Cash or check only. Bring boxes to carry your purchases.

For more information, go to

Santa Clara County

Heirloom tomatoes and many types of chiles and other peppers will be available at this sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at History San Jose, in Kelly Park, 650 Senter Road. Master gardeners will be on hand to answer gardening questions. Dozens of vendors will sell plants or garden supplies. Free talks on growing vegetables, preparing soils, water-wise plants and other topics take place throughout the day.

Bring boxes to carry your purchases.

For more information, go to

Katherine Grace Endicott,


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