After the long and cold winter, I am sure you all are as ready to start gardening as much as I am. This is a time of new possibilities and new things to try in the garden.
Make sure you are adding compost to your garden beds, whether they are in-ground or raised. Compost feeds the plants and the soil, holds water as well as helps with drainage. Good quality compost is essential. Poorly composted or unfinished compost will cause nitrogen deficiency in your plants, characterized by yellowing older leaves and poor growth. If you make your own, sift out the bits that are not fully decomposed.
Mulch your planting area before and after planting. Mulch is essential for water retention! Also, good clean mulch will help prevent some soil borne diseases that may spread via soil splash onto leaves of plants that are susceptible. My favorite sources of mulch are leaves, composted straw, compost, and bagged composted wood chips. I would avoid using those free piles of wood chips directly around your garden plants unless that’s all you have access to. Uncomposted wood chips can introduce pests, disease, and weeds. If you compost them first, then they are better. I like to stick to using woodchips in garden paths instead. Again, if this is all you have, then by all means use them, as something is better than nothing at all. Just be more vigilant and on the lookout for new weeds and things popping up. And don’t mix them into the soil or you will have nitrogen deficiency in your plants.
April is a tricky month. On most days it’s warm and most nights are above freezing. We gardeners desperately want to get those tomato and pepper plants out there asap! Beware that our last frost date average is around April 29. My horticulturist father always said to wait to plant those summer vegetables until Cinco de Mayo, May 5th! If you like to gamble, please invest in a nice frost cloth and cross your fingers.
What to plant now:
In April: Early in the month is the last chance for things like peas, kale, and perhaps spinach. Use fast maturing varieties of any cool weather veggie or flower.
End of April: Start planting the warm season things like squash, tomatoes and peppers, basil, etc.