Sunday, 5 April 2015

April Ramblings

Here we are in the lovely spring month of April, looking forward to sunshine and warmth .. but the weather in April can be somewhat unpredictable ...  sometimes lovely, sometimes not... a month with a split personality.

These first few mornings have been very nippy, with frost on the lawn and ice on the puddles. After such a lovely winter, with lots of sunshine and warmer than average temps, this completely typical, absolutely normal spring weather is throwing us all for a loop!

As always in April though, the tulips, daffodils and other spring bulbs are popping up everywhere, showing off their brights Easter hues.
Magnolia's, forsythia's, camellia's and other spring flowering trees are covered head to toe in glorious blooms.
Peonies, lupines and other perennials are poking their heads through the soil.
Spring, glorious spring! 

For those of you who feel like you are so far behind this year, relax! You truly aren't behind at all. Our last average frost date in Nanaimo and area is April 28th, so we are actually completely normal, and right on track.

Tomato seedlings them in May! Not April!

Please do not get tricked into buying tomato, pepper, cuke, squash or corn seedlings at this time of year should you see them at the grocery stores or garden centres. They need warm soil and warm night time temps of 10C to thrive. Planting too early actually causes them to go dormant and sets you back by 6 weeks!  Buy them in May to plant out at the end of the month or early June.

Plus, leave those 6 packs of warm weather annuals, like geraniums and marigolds, on the shelves for a few more weeks, at least! Brrr! If you need to wear a jacket of any kind, it is too cold for those warm weather annuals! Night time temps have been pretty cool!  

At the Nitty Gritty Greenhouse and Potager.

So, what then can you be planting, growing and doing in your gardens this month? Read on, my friends, read on.. 

To Do ...
- Plant out pops of colour to brighten your stoop, your mood, and your yard... Pansies, violas, and forced bulbs of all sorts offer long lasting colour in spring.
- You can still be amending, if needed, in your garden beds... adding organic matter of all kinds so that your beds are ready to go when you are.
- Fighting the slugs! Use a pet-safe slug bait that is iron-phosphate based... sprinkle in your gardens, do not place in clumps.
- Or use copper tape around the plants or the garden bed tops to fight slugs, too.  Very effective, though expensive.

Plant artichokes now

Vegetables that you can plant now ...
- Peas! (seeds or starters!) Succession sow every two weeks!
- Artichokes! (starters)
- Asparagus, roots and seeds (roots give you crops in 2 years, seeds in 5 years or more)
- Shallots and spring garlic
- Cabbage (seeds or starters)
- Radishes
- Kale (seeds or starters) 
- Broccoli, cauliflower (seeds or starter plants)
- Chinese greens such as pak choi (seeds or starters)
- Swiss chard (seeds or starters)
- Celery (starter)
- Carrots, beets, lettuce (seeds)
- Onion seedlings or sets
- Some herbs ...  parsley, chervil, lavender, dill and cilantro.
- Seed potatoes - Plant anytime from early April till mid-June. You have a huge window of opportunity for the potatoes! Succession crop!

 Still time to start your tomatoes from seed.. before mid-month.

Seeds to start indoors right now...
- Tomatoes!
- Sweet Peppers
- Marigolds

Direct seed Zinnia seeds in the garden at the end of the month...

Annuals to plant directly into the garden .. from seed or hardened off seedlings in April
- Sweet Peas! (seeds or starters!)
- Snapdragons (starters)
- Dianthus (starters or seeds)
- Nasturtium (starters or seeds)
- Calendula (starters or seeds)
- Violas and pansies (starters)
- Sweet alyssum (seeds or starters)
- Poppies (seeds)
- Zinnias (seed, at the end of the month)
- Sunflowers (seed, at the end of the month)

Welcome Little Beaner, the new Nitty Gritty Greenhouse kitty.

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