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April 5, 2014

Garden checklist: Early April work brings spring vegetables

Watch out for snails, slugs and stink bugs.

April is among the busiest months for Sacramento gardeners, especially if they want to plant a vegetable garden. But pests are also very active, so look out for invasions.

•  In the vegetable garden , plant seeds for beets, carrots, celery, chard, endive, fennel, jicama, mustard, radish, spinach and turnips.

•  Watch out for slugs and snails. Spring brings them out in force. An hour after nightfall, check your tender plants with a flashlight and hand-pick snails and slugs off foliage.

•  To deter snails, sprinkle wood ash or crushed eggshells around plants. Or try this trick: Put boards (such as two 2-by-4s or 1-by-6s) flat in the garden and leave them overnight. In the morning, you’ll find the critters hiding under the boards. Scrape the pests into the trash and dispose of them.

• Catch stink bugs early. Their eggs, in neat rows, soon will start appearing on the underside of leaves. The young stink bugs look like long-legged aphids. They can be controlled by such organic products as Nature’s Pest Fighter, Safer brand insecticidal soap or Bug Buster-O. Or, with gloves, pick them off and drop them in an old coffee can containing an inch of soapy water. Then, cover the can and dispose of it.

• With warmer weather comes mosquito season. Empty water out of saucers under pots. Also, eliminate any other standing water that may have accumulated during spring showers.

– Debbie Arrington

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