Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Garden Ramblings in April

Busy, busy month in the garden, is the month of April.

For many of us here in the PNW and on the island, this is the beginning of planting time.

Though we had a rainy and cooler than normal March, the month of April started off with sunshine and warmth. Hoping that bodes well for the rest of the month....

What to do in the garden this month?

- Plant peas.... if you already have, plant another row, if you haven't yet, plant now and again in two or three weeks.

- Plant potatoes. Mid month is when I generally plant mine. The beds are usually dry enough and warm enough to plant the chitted up seed potatoes and have them thrive. Do not plant in cool and wet soil. It is not good for your soil to work it when wet, and you risk your potatoes rotting in the ground.

- Plant spinach, mustard's, arugula, oriental greens, and all kinds of lettuce greens.... this is their time to thrive as they love the cooler temps. (succession plant)
- Kale from seed or transplants.
- Swiss Chard from seed or transplants
- Radishes (succession plant, meaning that every two or three weeks sow some more)
- Carrots (succession plant)
- Turnips, rutabagas
- Herbs such as chives, parsley, oregano, thyme, marjoram, etc... all except the cilantro and basil.

From transplants ...
- Brussels Sprouts
- Cabbage
- Cauliflower
- Broccoli
- All greens can be sown from seed or transplants...
- Most all herbs besides the cilantro and basil can go out this month

Sow indoors...
- If you have not yet done so, start your sweet peppers, tomatoes, eggplants now
- All herbs can be started from seed at this time.

Walla Walla Onions as transplants.
Sweet and yummy! 

Plant your leeks, shallots, and onions out this month from either seed, sets or transplants.

Plant asparagus roots now for your own fresh asparagus each spring for the next 20 plus years! See HERE for the how-to on planting and growing asparagus.

Growing great carrots!

Many times I have folks tell me that their carrots did not grow and did not even germinate... here are some tips for growing great carrots.

- Amend your garden with compost so that the soil is good, rich, loose and friable.
- Ensure that the soil is free of rocks and clay, for good strong, long carrots.
- Plant your seeds when the weather has stabilised and day time temps are reliably above 10 C.
- Water the bed before planting.
- Plant your seeds in trenches that are about 1/2 inch deep and sow seeds one to two inches apart. If you plant closer together, you will be doing a lot of thinning out.
- The seeds can be sown in rows, plant another row every three weeks, make the rows 6 to 8 inches apart. You can also plant them in thick bands where the seeds are sown in 3 inch wide strips. Blocks, such as in square foot plantings, also work really well for carrots (about 16 carrots per square block).
I generally sow my carrots in blocks that are 12 inches wide and 4 feet long (as in French Intensive growing), sowing 4 rows of carrots about 3 inches apart. 
- Cover the seed lightly and gently tamp down the soil with either the back of a rake or with your hands. Do not step on the rows or compact the soil.
- Water in well and keep the bed watered till germination in about 7 to 21 days. If they seeds start to germinate under ground and are allowed to dry out, you will never see a carrot as the seeds will all die in the bed. Germination will occur faster as soil warms up.
- Keep your bed weed free and deep water once or twice a week.
-If you have sown thickly you will need to thin out the seedlings when they are small, about an inch high. Thin to one inch apart. Then in several weeks time as they grow, thin to 3 or 4 inches apart.

I generally plant mine an inch or two apart. As the carrots grow and I want some for salads, I will begin to pick every second carrot on an as needed basis. That way, the every other carrot gets to size up nicely to full size plus I get to enjoy baby carrots throughout the growing season.
Remember that baby carrots are not going to have that same full, sweet flavour as the mature ones do, are going to be much milder in flavour.

- If you do not see any carrots after 14 to 21 days it is due to either the seed drying up in the bed or they were planted before the soil was warm enough, thus the seed died. No worries! There are thousands of carrot seeds in those packages. Sow a new patch, all will be well. 

Best tasting carrots ever, according to my family, dogs included ... Scarlet Nantes, Half Long Danvers and Chantenays.

That's what you call a tire biter! 

What to do in the yard...

Mow the lawn.

Feed the lawn and lime your lawn. Applying lime helps to keep the moss away.

Deadhead daffodils and tulips.

Clean up and rake the gardens, the perennials that have died back, etc..

Mulch roses and perennial beds with compost.

Top with fresh bark mulch.

Plant out Sweet Peas, either the seeds or transplants.

Put a birdbath or fountain out by your fruit trees or perennial gardens for the birds and the bees. Bees also need water to drink and will be very grateful for the full meal deal in your garden, 
Place a few flat stones in the birdbath to give them a safe landing pad so that they do not drown. 
If you are having a hard time getting your fruits trees fruiting even though they are full of blooms each spring, this trick may encourage the bees to come pollinate your trees for you.

Garlic is up about 6 to 8 inches in early April

Bits and bobs...

Last traditional frost date in our area is April 28th.
Please do not plant your warm weather crops outside until the end of May or early June.. this means cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil, cilantro.

Orange Parrot Tulips


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