Mid-April is a great time to start planting vegetable seeds | THE COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER

You can start warm-season crops indoors now for setting out into the garden later after the weather has warmed.

The third week of April is a good time to plant seeds of many vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, carrots, peas, kale, Swiss Chard and radish.

You can start warm-season crops indoors now for setting out into the garden later after the weather has warmed. This means you can start tomatoes, peppers, melons and eggplants from seeds if you sow them indoors or in a greenhouse.

Go ahead and purchase your favorite coleus, petunias and fuchsia starts now but do not leave these tender plants outdoors overnight. A good trick is to place your newly purchased flower and vegetable starts into a wheelbarrow, letting them enjoy sunshine, light rain and spring breezes now so they can harden off a bit. Then wheel the contents back under the protection of a patio or garage each night until mid May.

Q. I planted clematis into a large pot a few years ago and I love how it blooms on my patio. Every spring I give this vine the pony tail cut like you suggested in a class a few years ago. My question is how long can a clematis live in a pot that is about 18 inches deep by 12 inches wide? It bloomed for almost six months straight last summer. P.T., Sumner

A. Your clematis must be heeding the advice “bloom where you are planted” so why move a happy plant?

Some clematis bloom for a dozen years before they need repotting. You will know when to remove a vine, perennial or shrub from a pot by noticing a decline in the health of the plant.

One way to keep potted plants happy is to add a fresh mulch of compost or moo doo on top of the potting soil every spring and gently work this into the top few inches of soil. Every spring potted plants should be fertilized using a slow-release plant food. Then heavy bloomers such as annuals, roses and clematis appreciate a liquid fertilizer as well.

Remember not to fertilize clematis when it is in bloom or bud – a big meal will hastens petal drop.

Q. I have a sage plant “Hot Lips” in a large pot and also a fuchsia that was in a windowbox last summer and they both look like they have survived the winter because I see new leaves sprouting near the bottom of each plant. My question is when is it safe to cut back the old, dead looking top growth on these plants? C.G., Auburn

A. Congratulations on your green thumb – and thanks to our mild winter many plants will get a second summer this year. The end of April is a good time to cut back old growth but only if you see new leaves appearing. Use sharp hand shears to cut back to just above the sprouting new leaves. Then add some fertilizer because pruning always stimulates growth by waking up a once dormant plant.

Q. I love lilacs but have moved to a smaller yard. I heard that there are some dwarf lilacs available. Can you tell me the name? J., email

A. There is a more compact lilac called ‘Miss Kim’ but even this lilac will grow to eight feet tall and as wide.

If you want spring color in a small space a better choice would be a dwarf rhododendron or compact azalea or fragrant dwarf daphne, early blooming heathers and the ground hugging ‘Magic Carpet’ spiraeas. Add some dwarf evergreens for winter structure then surround your shrubs with compact summer blooming flowers such as begonias, alyssum, impatiens and geraniums. You can have a big color impact in a small space with the right choice of plant material.

Tip: Rhododendrons with the smallest leaves will be the slowest growers. Rhododendrons with large leaves will grow into tree size plants.

More in Life

Smart ways to keep homes warm

Q&A with Johns Manville: DIY Insulation tips for maximizing home energy efficiency

Heard of Papa Simms grocery store? Lecture reflects on Renton’s black history

Two virtual lectures will be held at area libraries to celebrate Black History Month.

For whodunit lovers, this short story is a gleefully-dark delight

Growing older is a very good thing. First of all, there’s a… Continue reading

See Binetti host Container Wars daily at show

Time to take a trip around the world — just by making… Continue reading

Illustrations by Rob McClurkan
Dr. Universe tells us how many bones dinosaurs have

Ask Dr. Universe is a science-education column from Washington State University.

Polo and Tugs got out of Monica Sauerwein’s house on Jan. 27. They were later found thatafternoon. Thanks to someone, Tugs was found and taken to a vet to see if he was chipped. Polo returned home on his own not long after. Submitted photo from Monica Saurerwein.
What to know about pet licensing

Licensing your pet is one of the best ways to ensure lost pets make it back home. Renton Animal Control and RASKC are important resources for pet owners in and out of Renton.

Search no more, you’ll want to read ‘Hero Dogs’

You felt like such a loser. It was a feeling that didn’t… Continue reading

Candy Cane Lane receives surprise donations

Folks gave $1,250 to go to a shed that will hold all the decorations

Urban Sprouts owner launches book Saturday

“The Inspired Houseplant” is meant to guide beginners through indoor plant life.

Most Read