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Time to grin and bare it: Plant dormant fruit trees, roses

Fill the soil around the roots of a bare-root tree and lightly tamp the soil to remove air pockets.
Fill the soil around the roots of a bare-root tree and lightly tamp the soil to remove air pockets. UC Extension

Time to start digging; this is bare-root season, when deciduous trees and shrubs are dormant – and ready to relocate. That also creates a great opportunity to make changes in your garden.

If you’ve been thinking of adding fruit trees or roses to your landscape, this month is prime planting time. Also, deciduous plants are easier to move when dormant.

At nurseries, “bare root” means the tree or shrub is sold without soil. That also allows for inspection of the plant below as well as above the soil line. If shopping for bare-root trees or roses, choose plants with healthy, robust roots as well as strong trunks and limbs.

Also available for bare-root planting are such edible perennials as asparagus and rhubarb as well as raspberries.

Elsewhere in the garden:

▪  Clean up leaves and debris around fruit trees and rose bushes to prevent the spread of disease. Don’t compost this material; it likely contains fungal disease. Instead, dispose of it in the household trash.

▪  Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees soon after a rain to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective. Don’t apply on damp or foggy days.

▪  Use a copper-based spray on peach and nectarine trees to control leaf curl.

▪  Prune hybrid tea, floribunda and grandiflora roses for April bloom. For more flowers this spring, prune less severely for a taller bush. Prune canes to 24 to 30 inches tall instead of 12 to 18 inches.

▪  Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.

▪  Cut back chrysanthemums to 6 to 8 inches tall; divide if necessary.

▪  In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.

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