April

April Food Growing Calendar

Could there possibly be a busier month in the vegetable garden than April? If you look at the blog this month, you will not see as many posts, OMG, that’s because none of us have time to WRITE!

If you do, we will be happy to post your articles on the blog with full credit to you and your website, if you have one. Simply let me know.

This month, depending on your zone you can direct sow…

  • Beets
  • Broad Beans (Fava)
  • Broccoli (early sprouting)
  • French Beans (end of month)
  • Runner Beans (protect)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots (early)
  • Carrots (maincrop) mid month
  • Summer Lettuce
  • Onion seed (main crop)
  • Spring Onions
  • Peas (early and main crop)
  • Summer Radish
  • Sweet corn (protect)
  • Tomatoes (indoor and protected)

Toward April’s end, you can sow everything directly outside.

Plant (if you haven’t already)

  • Onion sets
  • New potatoes
  • Maincrop potatoes

Harvest

  • Broccoli (late sprouting)
  • Lettuce
  • Radish

April Chores

  • Time to turn the compost pile! green tomato smiley
  • Cultivate, don’t let your weeds get ahead of you.

Herbs

  • Now is also the time to divide mint, chive, tarragon, and creeping thyme.
  • Plant chervil, coriander, dill, rosemary, and summer savory outside after the last spring frost date for your area. Your local extension agent should be able to give you the date.
  • The Dwarf Dill Fernleaf, is half the height of regular dill and more wind tolerant. It is slower to bolt to seed, and the flavor is excellent.
  • If you harvest mint frequently, growth will be more vigorous. Be sure to grow it in a container to keep it from taking over your garden.
  • For a handsome addition to your herb collection, try lovage Levisticum officinale, a hardy perennial with a sharp, but sweet, celery flavor. Leaves can be used sparingly in soups and salads stems can be blanched or eaten raw and seeds can be added to candies, bread and cakes.
  • Start herb seeds indoors in moist medium. Place in bright, indirect light and move to a sunny window when germination begins. When the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches tall, transplant into peat pots for the garden or into clay pots for use on your terrace or balcony. Some herbs easily grown for transplanting include chives, sage, sweet marjoram, basil, summer savory and parsley.
  • Bronze-leaved fennel Foeniculum vulgare ‘Atropurpureum’, an anise-scented herb that grows to 4 feet tall, looks great in the perennial border with tall, red- or white-flowered phlox or tall, silver-leaved perennials, including artemisia.

Vegetables

  • Plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, horseradish etc.
  • If you already have an established asparagus planting thin the plants by harvesting until the spear size decreases.
  • Plant second early and main crop potatoes (as in March). Sow French beans for early harvest and outdoor tomatoes under glass. Continue sowing celery and celeriac indoors as in March.
  • At the end of the month, sow runner beans, sweet corn, marrows, courgettes, squashes, pumpkins and outdoor cucumbers under glass and outdoors.
  • Plant out peppers, cucumbers, aubergines and tomatoes in pots and growing bags in the heated greenhouse.
  • As plants that have been direct seeded begin to sprout be sure to thin them out to avoid overcrowding.

Fruit

  • Cut out all the dead canes from your Raspberry patch. The new canes that will bear this year’s fruit should have new, swollen buds along the edges.
  • If you covered your strawberry beds during the winter, now is the time to uncover them.

Tools and Equipment – April

  • Buy a hose-end shut-off valve; these are available separately or as part of a watering wand. This allows you to turn off the hose as you move around the yard. Also, when you are through watering, you can shut off the water immediately, rather than let the hose run while you hurry to turn off the main spigot.
  • If a wooden handle breaks off of a good-quality tool, look for a replacement handle. It probably will be less expensive than a new tool. However, metal parts are usually very costly to repair.
  • If you take your own tools to work with in community gardens,you can “brand” wood-handled tools for quick identification. Paint your initials on the wood with nail polish then immediately ignite it. Repeat to make the marks deeper, if needed.
  • A “little, red wagon” can be useful for moving fertilizer,tools, or other supplies to the garden. You’ll appreciate its stability compared to a wheel-barrow.
  • In a cutting garden, support stems of tall plants, such as gladiolus, with chicken wire. While the plants are small, unroll the wire to the length and width of the bed and stake it 1 foot above the soil, horizontal to the ground. The stems will grow up through the holes and support the flowers without toppling over. Setting up this support is easier than staking each plant, and you can cut blossoms more selectively.
  • Measure the rainfall with a rain gauge posted near the garden so you can tell when to water. You can buy one, or make one by sinking a can part way into the ground and marking off its interior in inches. The garden needs about one inch of rain per week from April to September.
  • Ice cream scoops are great to dig holes of uniform size when setting out transplants, and the dirt slides right off when you release the handle.
  • When raising and transplanting seedlings in the house or greenhouse, an ordinary table fork is an ideal transplanting tool. You can loosen the plants in the seed flat without damaging the roots. Then you can open a hole for the new transplant in the new flat or pot by rocking it sideways. Finally, by sliding thetines around the delicate stem and pressing down, the transplant can be firmed in the growing medium.

Miscellaneous Gardening Reminders for April

  • To determine if soil is ready to work, squeeze a handful into a tight ball, then, break the ball apart with your fingers. If the ball of soil readily crumbles in your fingers, the soil is ready to be worked. If the soil stays balled, however, it is still too wet to work. Use this test in another week to determine if the soil is ready to be worked.
  • It is best to cut a vine off at its base if it covers a wall that needs repointing (repair of old mortar). Consider building a trellis to keep the vine from further damaging the wall. New, vigorous growth from the base of the old vines will recover the wall or trellis in time.
  • Keep a calendar close to the door going to the garden. Use it to track when and what you plant, fertilize, and harvest. Also note the weather. You will refer back to these notes each year.
  • Discourage nibbling deer in your garden this year by using plants that most deer don’t find tasty. Less tasteful annuals appear to include ageratum, dusty miller, french marigold, periwinkle, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, wax begonia, and zinnia. Perennials include bleeding-heart, foxglove, lily-of-the-valley, peony, and yarrow.
  • Bark, wood chips, or wood shavings are suitable mulches for flower beds of perennials or for walkways. Sawdust is good for walkways, but until it begins to decompose, it can stop water penetration.
  • If peat and soil-less mixes are hard to moisten, use warm water because it soaks in easier than cold water.
  • If you like birds and small animals in your yard, build sloping, rock-faced mounds. Birds will probe for food, and chipmunks may take up residence in the rock crevices.
  • Due to the cost of cut flowers, a flower garden grown from seed is a wise investment for fresh flowers all summer. Nasturtiums, zinnias, sweet peas and snapdragons are a few of the many old-fashioned, easy-to-grow annuals finding their way back into home gardens for informal, fresh bouquets.
  • When tiny seedlings are transplanted into individual containers, water by placing pots in a shallow pan of water. Do not pour water into pots as this disturbs the roots. When the media is moist, remove the pots from the water and place them ina shady spot for a day or two before returning plants to a sunny place.
  • Birds consume hundreds of insects each day, and wise gardeners encourage them to take up residence in orchards and gardens by installing bird houses, feeders and water sources.
  • The sound of dripping water attracts birds. You can create an audio, water feature in your garden with a plastic milk jug. Punch a tiny hole in the jug with a sewing needle. Fill the jug with water and adjust the size of the hole so the water drips very slowly, approximately 1 drop every 10 seconds. Hang the jug from a tree and put a clay or plastic saucer or birdbath underneath. If using a saucer, raise it on bricks or stones since many birds are not comfortable on the ground. Painting the milk jug green will make it less noticeable or you could find a more attractive reservoir. At 8 to 10 seconds between drops, a milk jug takes about 2 days to empty.
  • At this time of year, honey bees swarm, leave their hives and seek new hives. New swarms are not aggressive and should be left alone.
  • While sighing over any problems insects may cause in the garden, take a moment to wonder over some of their amazing feats as well. Grasshoppers can jump over 20 times their length. Fleas can jump 8 feet; we could leap the length of a football field, if we had the same skill proportionate to our size.
  • Moles are tunneling, insect eaters particularly attracted to grubs. When bulbs are missing or shrubs have root damage, look for voles or field mice to be the culprits. These rodents often use mole tunnels as their runs.
  • Can you identify the soil type of your garden, lawn, orchard and berry patch? Have you tested your soil? Don’t guess about fertilization. Soil testing will help you base fertilizer and lime applications on the present condition of the soil and the nutrients needed by your plants. Contact your local Extension agent for instructions for sampling soil.
Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience.
– Marina Schinz¬†¬† … More gardening quotes