" Although it's often tempting to plant tender annuals like basil, petunias and zinnias, do so only if you can protect them from late freezes. April 29 is the average date for the Rogue Valley's last frost, and freezes can occur through mid-May.
" To harden off those tender seedlings, place them outside for increasing periods each day, but keep them in a sheltered area at night. After 7 to 10 days, they are ready to go into the garden.
" Start planting your containers with hardy starts like alyssum, pansies and sage. Leave room for tender annuals to add next month, like begonias and coleus.
" Adding water-absorbent polymer pellets to your soil mix will lengthen the time between summer watering.
" Many summer flowers can be grown from seed. Plant these at the beginning of the month, and your babies will be ready to plant in mid-May.
" Make sure your pond is clear of dead plant material. This will help minimize algae blooms as the water warms. You can also add beneficial bacterial to warming water. Fish feeding should resume when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees.
Kitchen Garden and Orchard
" Seeds: Get beets, chard, chives, kale and lettuce into the ground. Early planting means you can plant a second crop in these areas.
" Plant leeks for winter harvest; onion for summer eating and storage. Onions should be "long day" or "intermediate day" types, or bulb development will be disappointing. Try 'Cippolini,' 'Walla Walla' and 'Stockton Red.'
" Plant potatoes in a variety of colors, sizes and densities: 'Yukon Gold,' 'All Blue,' and 'Burbank Russet.'
" Fertilize established artichoke plants with a high phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate flower development.
" Another container idea: create a "tower" for your herb plants. In the largest container, bury a second pot about half-way in the center of the first, or place it at an edge if you plan to keep your herb "garden" against a wall. Depending on pot size, put parsley, sage, oregano, mint, thyme or rosemary in the bottom pot. Basil, cilantro or chives can grow above.
" As the soil begins to dry out, compacted lawns can be aerated. Add about 1/4-inch of compost to these lawns. Fertilize established lawns carefully, following package instructions with precision.
" Overseed thin lawns or bare patches. Water as needed, so seeds can sprout and get a foothold before summer heat. No fertilizer is needed in these areas until growth is established.
" Has dense clay soil dampened your gardening enthusiasm? The Jackson County Master Gardener class "Gardening in Clay Soils" will teach you about the properties of clay soils and discuss strategies for making it a good home for roots! 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 16 at the extension office 569 Hanley Rd., Central Point. Fee $5. Call 776-7371 for info.
" Help make the Master Gardener's 27th annual Spring Fair a success by donating books (not magazines) on gardening, "how-to" topic, crafts, cooking, and preserving for their annual sale. Benefits the scholarship fund. The fair is May 2-3 at the Jackson County Expo & Fairgrounds, Central Point. It features vendors, demonstrations and the largest plant sale in the valley. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission $2.00. Proceeds fund Master Gardener educational programs. Call the Extension Center at 776-7371.
" Wondering what is growing on your back forty? North Mountain Nature Center in Ashland is offering four identification classes:
Noxious weed identification and treatment (free, hands-on, 1 to 4 p.m., April 18)
Wildflowers in Oredson-Todd Woods ($5, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., April 11)
Noteworthy Trees on Southern Oregon University's campus ($3, 2 to 4 p.m., April 11)
Edible Plants at the Nature Center ($22, 10 a.m. to noon, April 26) Contact the nature center for more information: 541-488-6606
" Small Batch Preserving Class. Using tested, approved recipes you can feel confident in preparing, we'll show that canning can be done small-scale too! Demonstrations of a zesty salsa, ginger pear preserves, and apple wedges in cinnamon Red Hot syrup, showcasing the variety of wonderful items that can be preserved in small batches. Thursday, March 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the auditorium at the Jackson County Extension Center. A $10 materials fee is payable the day of class. Reservations are suggested by calling 776-7371.