Garden chores aplenty compete for your attention in April. The first days of spring are a prime time for planting, fertilizing and many other cultural practices.

Our weather finally gets warm enough to put potted geraniums, Christmas cacti and amaryllis plants outdoors for the season. Begin fertilizing monthly with a powdered, water-soluble product or simplify matters by using a slow-release fertilizer that will release nutrients every time you water the plants.

Repotting is a spring rite among growers of houseplants. April is the ideal time to repot because new leaves and roots have begun to grow and the weather is warm enough to do the job outside where spilled potting soil is no problem.

Many houseplants need to be shifted up to a larger pot every few years. Others like rubber plant, snake plant and elephant foot tree can handle being repotted every 10 to 20 years.

You may divide and repot ferns, peace lilies and spider plants in early spring to make new plants. This is done by removing the plant from its pot and cutting it into sections with a sharp knife or garden spade, with each section having a few leaves and some roots.

Lawns and garden beds are sprouting great quantities of a European import called hairy bittercress this spring. The weed's dainty white flowers sit on top of short stalks, and seeds virtually explode from the plant when they ripen.

Its life cycle began last fall when seed germination began. The weed will fade away as temperatures rise, so there is no pressing need to remove it unless you find it unsightly.

Lawn mowing begins this month. Your lawn could need mowing every week or even twice a week depending on rainfall, from now to November.

Frequent mowing is best for lawns. It is always best to cut off no more than one third of the lawn's leafy growth in one mowing operation.

This rule of thumb goes out the window when the weather turns wet and we get rain on a daily basis. Then all you can do is mow when conditions are dry enough and try to disperse the clumps of clippings lying on your lawn before they smother the grass.

Lawn seeding time is in full swing. To give your new grass a chance to survive the stressful days of summer, you must plant seeds before the middle of April.

Bean seeds are another thing to plant in April. The soil is now getting warm enough to make them germinate instead of rot.

The choice is between pole beans and bush beans. Both will produce for two to four weeks.

Six-foot-tall pole beans are easier to pick, but earlier harvests are possible with short bush beans. Some of the best ones to grow are Kentucky Blue pole bean and Jade bush bean.

Garden plots are available for rent at Humankind's Davis Instructional Garden. If interested, please contact Master Gardener Richard Givens at and (434) 283-1515.

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