40th anniversary logo for 2020
April Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy that one gets from participating in nature's rebirth?” ~Edward Giobbi
COVID-19 Update
  • Our Spring Garden Market event has been canceled. We hope to offer online ordering and pick up instead. Updates will be provided on our Spring Garden Market web page.

  • All classes and presentations through the end of April have been canceled.

Photo by Maxinne Ball
Easter Lilies
Beautiful white Easter lilies are normally everywhere this time of year – in nurseries, on Easter dinner tables, and in churches. How do they all come into bloom every year just in time for the moveable Easter holiday? The blooms are forced in commercial growing operations with greenhouses carefully controlled for temperature, light, and moisture. 95% of the bulbs are started in ten farms along the California-Oregon border. The plants are native to Taiwan and Japan and were first described in a Japanese gardening book in 1681. You can plant them outdoors after Easter in moist, well-drained soil with partial sun. Their natural cycle will lead to blooms closer to June in subsequent years. Just don’t let your cats eat them!

More Information: Easter Lily diseases

Photo: Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum, by Maxinne Ball
Raised bed by Jeff Jenks
Raised Beds
Raised beds make gardening easier in several ways. You don’t have to bend over as far to reach the surface. You can add any soil blend you like and you won’t compact the soil around the roots by walking on it. You can also better protect the roots and plants from critters. You can build them with wood or cinder blocks or anything that doesn’t have chemicals that can leach out into your food, for example, no pressure treated lumber or railroad ties with creosote. If you’re using wood, redwood and cedar are the most resistant to pests and rot. You can be particularly green by using old fence boards or decking. Locate the beds where the plants will get the sun they need. Make sure the width is not more than twice your arm length so that you can easily reach all parts from the sides. To prevent gophers and other pests from tunneling into the root area, line the bottom of the bed with hardware cloth.

Photo: Raised bed being built from leftover redwood fence boards and lined with hardware cloth, by Jeff Jenks
Weed Explosion
March brought both warm sunny days and rain, so the weeds had ideal conditions to start taking over your garden. Don’t let them win! If they win one year and go to seed, it will lead to a multi-year battle. Many of you have extra time at home right now, so you have fewer excuses to avoid this task. Perhaps you can get help by incorporating weed removal into a science lesson or a math lesson for your children. The most important thing is to get the weeds before they go to seed. Try to remove as much of the root as possible, especially for perennial weeds. There are many online resources to help with weed identification if you want to know what a weed is called or how it propagates. Many weeds, like Bermuda grass, have multiple ways of multiplying.
Some ideas for math lessons: If each dandelion flower produces 150-200 seeds and there are an average of ten flowers per plant, how many seeds can come from one plant? If mini bittercress can forcibly propel seeds a distance of six feet, what square footage area of your garden could be covered next year based on the weeds there currently?    

More Information: Weed Photo Gallery

Photo: Little mallow, also known as cheeseweed, by Jack Kelly Clark
Western mosquitofish by Dan Worth California Department of Fish and Game
Make sure you don’t have any water sitting around from our late rains. Mosquitos breed in standing water and can pass along deadly West Nile Virus to people. Check and dump water from any buckets, pots, saucers, dishes, or wheelbarrows. Put containers away or turn them over to avoid collecting additional water. Keep chemicals balanced in swimming pools. Ponds, fountains, and bird baths can also be breeding grounds. Add mosquitofish to these bodies of water to eat mosquito larvae. They are an environmentally friendly means of control and are available free of charge from Santa Clara County Vector Control .

More Information: Mosquito Management

Photo: Western mosquitofish by Dan Worth, California Department of Fish and Game
Photo by Laura Monczynski
Food Security
Even if you don’t already have fruits and vegetables growing in your yard, you can still get some things to eat if you are concerned about not being able to buy produce. Greens are one of your best bets for something that will be ready to eat quickly. Choose leaf lettuce over head lettuce. With leaf lettuce you can eat the outer leaves and the plant will continue to produce leaves from the middle so you can eat the lettuce over time; with head lettuce you have to wait for the entire head to be ready before eating anything. Beets are another plant where you can eat the outer leaves while the beet root is forming. Radishes are one of the fastest growing vegetables which is why they are often grown by school children in classrooms. If you don’t have room outside, small plants can be grown inside with adequate light. And don’t forget to check your yard for edible weeds like purslane , miner’s lettuce , and dandelions .

More Information: How to Grow Lettuce

Photo: Miner’s lettuce, by Laura Monczynski
Upcoming Events
We offer free or low-cost gardening talks, workshops, and courses all over the county, as well as hosting information tables at many community events. Please join us and bring your questions!

Sat, May 02, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., VIRTUAL Going Native Garden Tour , Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, Santa Clara cities

Sun, May 03, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., VIRTUAL Going Native Garden Tour , Santa Clara County, Santa Clara, Santa Clara cities
Visit the UC Master Gardener Program website  for additional information including an up-to-date list of events and classes .

Have a gardening question? Contact our Help Desk (for Santa Clara County residents). Start by reviewing our plant  problem diagnosis tips .
  • Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., 408-282-3105
  • Fri ONLY 1:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m., 650-329-1356 (Closed Dec. & Jan.)
  • Or send us your question online

The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Santa Clara County Master Gardener Program volunteers are trained under the auspices of the UCCE. Our mission is to promote sustainable gardening practices by providing up-to-date, research-based horticultural information to home gardeners.

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