Saturday, April 1, 2006
Gardening Jobs by the Month: April.............................................
Pay Attention to Houseplants!! I live in Zone 5b-6a
***** Plant the Onions on the 14th, 15th or 16th! *****
Start coleus cuttings (or seeds) now to plant outdoors in the garden by early June. These colorful plants are enjoying a revival as fine accents to annual and perennial borders.
Smell the Flowers:
Rake or remove mulches from all flower beds. (Or maybe Not.)
Plant rosebushes. They often do best if planted before growth starts and buds swell. And if you want to increase their fragrance, surround them with parsley. It looks dead to me!
Scatter annual poppy seeds in the flower garden and let them grow where they will. They don't like to be transplanted.
Broadcast lime, wood ashes, or a mixture of the two over alkaline-loving perennials such as delphiniums and dianthus. Bring color outdoors to patios, porches, and even the garden with pansy plants, which don't mind cold nights. To encourage constant flowering, routinely remove spent blossoms and keep them from getting bone-dry. (My comment: Ha!)
Sow sweet peas as soon as the soil can be worked. Nick the seeds with a nail file and plant them five inches deep, but cover them with only about three inches of soil. Hoe more soil up around them as they grow.
Plant (or Divide) lilies-of-the-valley, violets, and garden lilies. Divide summer- and fall-blooming perennials, including delphiniums, irises, chrysanthemums, daisies, and phlox.
Although we think of this as a rainy month, it can fool us. Keep transplanted flowers well watered during dry spells. (mulch, mulch, mulch!!)
Enjoy the Fruits:
When danger of frost has passed, uncover strawberry beds and keep them well watered.
Plant or check the blackberries, raspberries, boysenberries, strawberries, and fruit trees.
Get Your Veggies and Herbs started:
Start seeds indoors for heat-loving crops such as eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and squash, (they take a longer time to produce fruits up North here.)
To determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeds, grab a good handful of it. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet. If it crumbles through your fingers and reminds you of chocolate cake, it's ready for planting.
*****If the soil is ready, give it a good stirring and let it sit for several days. Then top-dress it with compost or well-rotted manure and plant beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, parsnips, lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and turnips.*****
If you got your peas in last month, be sure to give them a good fence for support, made of chicken wire, twine, or stubby branches that are at least three feet tall. Otherwise, plant them this month as soon as you can.
Scatter spinach or lettuce seeds around emerging bulb foliage to make wise use of your garden space, and have a leafy green crop at the ready to cover the bare spots left by deadheaded spring flowers.
Survey the Shrubbery:
Prune forsythias as soon as the flowers fade. Cut the oldest stems to within a foot of the ground, but be sure to let the plant keep its arching form; don't turn it into a gumdrop or cannonball.
Feed your trees. As soon as the frost goes out of the ground, give them a well-balanced slow-release fertilizer. Scatter about six good handfuls per each 10x10-foot area. Store leftover fertilizer in a small plastic trash can or a covered plastic container, and label it.
Rake your lawn to remove all leaves, dead grass, and small twigs. Sow seed for a new lawn, or fill in bare patches by first covering the area with compost or other organic matter. Roll the lawn if the ground isn't soggy.
If you receive mail-order nursery plants before your soil is dry enough for planting, make a trench and heel them into the ground in a protected area.
Some Things Not to Do:
Don't fertilize strawberries in the spring. This is when the leaves are developing, and you'll get lush growth and meager, soft berries. Wait until blossoms appear and use a light hand. Potted ones need a little help in this area.
Don't set out tropicals such as: tomato, eggplant, peppers and squash plants out in the garden too soon. They hate cold soil and cold nights (under 55 degrees F). Instant death!
Don't forget to vent your cold frame. April days may feel chilly, but the temperature under the glass can get over 100 degrees F on a sunny day. Salad greens are unhappy over 65 degrees F, and most other plants will perish over 85 degrees F.
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