• Whatever the weather, the average date of the last frost is still April 29. To be cautious about the investment in those tender annuals, wait until Mother's Day to plant. Give them time outside daily, to harden them to sun and weather conditions outside the greenhouse.
• If you are planting shrubs, trees or perennials pay careful attention to watering needs all summer and into dormancy. Even the most thirst-free plants will need careful watering through their first year. Deep watering, rather than shallow daily watering, will establish deep roots and encourage drought-tolerance. Mulch around the base of the plant, leaving air space around the trunk, to minimize evaporative water loss.
• Prune and thin flowering shrubs, including rhododendrons, forsythia, Harry Lauder's walking stick, honeysuckle, viburnum and pieris. This is also a good time to prune Mugo pine.
kitchen and orchard
• Direct seed most warm weather crops including beans, beets, potatoes, carrots, corn and heat-tolerant lettuce and spinach. Use transplants for peppers and tomatoes and squashes, among others.
• When planting seed, put seeds into starter cell packs at the same time. If you have individual failures in the garden, you can replace them with starts from your cell packs.
• Use compost to mulch around starts, minimizing water loss and keeping soil temperatures even.
• It's the start of the watering season and for most efficient watering you should "can" your automatic system. Put straight-sided cans (tuna-type are great) around the lawn, and water for 30 minutes. Then measure the water depth and adjust your timing so lawns get 1 inch of water once a week in normal weather and 1 inch of water twice a week in the hottest part of summer.
• Early morning is best for watering. You may want to water more often with less water if you have heavy clay soil, because it will absorb water more slowly.
• Tine for the annual Master Gardeners' Spring Fair, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat., April 26 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sun., April 27, at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, 1 Penninger St., Central Point. Admission is $2; children under 12 are free. Find plants and garden paraphernalia from 100 different vendors. Free classes are held both days and there's a used garden book sale, children's exhibit, free well-water testing and plant clinic experts to diagnosis your problems. Access the Master Gardener website for more information: http://extension.oregonstate.edusorecmg
• The Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market offers produce, flowers, bedding plants, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the Ashland Armory (corner of East Main and Wightman) and Thursdays at the Medford Armory (South Pacific Hwy. south of Stewart).
• Garden Club members mine their gardens every spring for club plant sales, so you're guaranteed to get plants that are successful in the Rogue Valley. The Medford Garden Club will have a sale May 3, at the Red Cross Building across from Hawthorne Park.