April Gardening Checklist
Planning and working in April
After itching to get out in the yard and garden during the cold season, it's
now time to get out and get going. This is an incredibly busy month so organization
helps get as much done as possible.
As a cautionary note: Make sure your garden beds are not too wet. If it's been
raining and the soil is saturated, you'll have to postpone your gardening for
a bit longer.
- Dig up your garden beds early this month. Turn under any
cover crops you might have planted last fall. Let the beds settle for a week
or so. Break up large clumps.
- The compost, which has been breaking down unobtrusively in a corner of the
yard, may be ready to yield its wealth of organic goodness. Get to
the bottom of your compost pile and pull out the most rotted parts to mix
up for composted soil. Mixed with soil and forced through a screen,
this makes the best dressing for covering seeds. Nutrient rich compost improves
the texture, water rentention, and drainage of your soil.
- Prepare for pests. Slugs need to be killed as they are
found. The smaller slugs are more greedy than big slugs and can eliminate
small transplants overnight. Many pests are attracted to weak and sickly plants,
so conditioning soil not only promotes growth, it can actually deter infestations
of aphids, powdery mildew, and blackspot. Use biological controls whenever
possible instead of relying on chemical sprays or dusts. Use only organic
pest control methods if possible.
- Top dress your lawn this month with and inch or so of compost
if you didn't get to it in March. Mixing it with a bit of wood ash ensures
strong healthy growth. Once spread, you can also overseed patchy areas.
- Repot houseplants. Take them out of their current pots.
Examine roots. If they are root bound, repot with fresh potting soil in larger
- Harden off seedlings to prepare for transplant.
- Transplant seedlings and young plants once the danger of frost is
past. Use plant markers to mark each plant so you'll remember what
you put where. Protect tender plants from wind and pests.
- Direct sow early spring vegetables like lettuces, spinach, and other
spring greens as well as flowers such as nasturtiums. Other flowers
that can be direct sown include snapdragons, asters, alyssum, calendula, centaurea,
pansies, violas, scabiosa, mignonette, dianthus, poppy, cosmos, gypsophila,
annual phlox, verbena, and ageratum. Marigolds can be planted during the last
half of the month.
- Thin seedlings ruthlessly to encourage growth.
- By now you should have some idea of what perennials survived the winter
and what needs to be yanked out and replaced this year. This is also a good
time to move plants that may not have been well placed last season.
These include hosta, ferns, and artemesia. It's an ideal time to space plants
out, especially if you are susceptible to that common malady of cramming too
much in to too small an area.
- Divide perennials this month. They include chysanthemums,
delphinium, anemone, fall asters, daylilies, and Shasta daisy.
- If the ground isn't frozen, plant bulbs. Prepare hole with
a bit of bone meal first, then plant.
- Sow herbs such as chives, parsley, sage, dill, thyme, marjoram,
etc. in open spots on the border.
- Plant trees and shrubs now to give them plenty of time
to get established before the summer.
- Prune grapes and fruit trees now. Don't wait.
- If you have a cold frame, any time during the spring
is good for cleaning and repairing for next fall.
- Start summer vegies in individual pots indoors now. They
will be ready to transplant in May and early June.
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If you haven't had time to complete all of your indoor projects, but the garden
is calling, hire a qualified contractor to get them done. ContractorNexus
can help you find a licensed professional in your area.