Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Garden and Greenhouse Ramblings for April


March came in like a lion and out like a lamb, with a whole week of glorious sunny weather to end the month.

April has already been all over the place, weather wise. Let's see if the nursery rhymes continue to have it right... Will April showers bring May flowers? Or is the drought going to start extra early this year? Fingers crossed for lots of sun.. and lots of rain! 

Where to start this month, as there is so much to do in the garden and greenhouse?  

Purple sprouting broccoli

Harvesting the last of winter... 

The winter veggies will be ready for the picking this month. Harvest them and enjoy, while making room for spring and summer veggies.

Most of your winter brassicas will put on a lot of new growth this month ... and then promptly go to seed. This is completely normal, the cycle of life. Harvest lots and lots, enjoy these fresh goodies, and then remove the spent plants from your garden. Maybe allow one or two to go to seed for 'free' plants.

Leeks - Pull your leeks for Potato Leek and Cock-a-Leekie soups. If you leave them in the garden too long, they will tend to get kind of woody. Best to enjoy them while they are tender and delish! However, leaving one in the garden to go to seed is a fantastic idea.

Sprouting broccoli - These guys are putting on more and more broccolini heads by the day. Eat lots, freeze lots, and share lots... when they bolt, is time to pull them out and pop in some new broccoli starts.

Kale - will soon also go to seed. You can eat some of the blossoms, then either let it scatter seed in your garden or pull it out. Pop in a new batch of starts to get you through till next spring.

Carrots - Lift your carrots soon, use them up before they get all hairy and woody. Succession sow new seeds over the next few months for fresh carrots year round.

Parsley -  I used to leave my parsley in the ground, but found that the it got really tough as it got older, the leaves were no longer tender and sweet. Also, the roots are huge and run real deep, tough as all get out, and then they set seed, of course, and you have new parsley everywhere ; )

I am not saying not to leave it in, just letting you all know why I do not let it perennialize. Maybe if you have lots of space and are doing the permaculture thing, but in a cultivated raised bed situation, I found it to be less than ideal ; )


In the Greenhouse

- Feed your roses, geraniums (aka pelargoniums) and other over-wintering plants every 2nd week with an organic all purpose feed, or with homemade alfalfa tea. Find the recipe for the tea HERE!

Right about now, your over wintering stock is likely putting on lots of new growth and blooms or buds. Feeding them will keep them going strong and blooming all summer long.

- Keep removing any dead bits, yellowing bits, and spotted bits.


Feed your seedlings and transplants with the alfalfa tea 
plus a foliar spray with liquid seaweed once a week.


Pot up dahlias, cannas, callas, and other bulbs into pots to give them a head start on the season. 
Pop into the garden when the soil is nice and warm, mid May-ish.

What to pre-start now in the greenhouse?

- Tomatoes
- Tomatillos
- Sweet peppers
- Eggplants

You can also still start cole crops now, if you prefer to start them indoors, or they can be seeded straight into the garden.

Garlic is growing like gangbusters! 

What to do in the garden...

- Watch the garlic grow! If you feel that it needs a dose of feed, side dress with a bit of  bone meal and blood meal, compost or manure.

- Still time to feed your soil if you need to add amendments like organic matter, manure, compost, blood meal, alafalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, etc... Do a soil test first before adding any additives other than compost and manure.

- Sow seeds and plant transplants... see lists of what to plant below.


Add pops of colour to pots with forced tulips, daffs, hyacinths and other spring flowering bulbs.
Primulas, violas, pansies, and English daisies also love this wonderful wonky weather time of year. 

Peas and violas.. both love the cool spring temps! 

What to sow?

Keep in mind that the last frost date in our area is April 28th, so we can still get all sorts of weather this month.... from lovely t-shirt weather, to rain coats and wellies, or parkas and mittens!

This means that it is a great month to sow cold season crops, but please leave your heat lovers at the store or in the greenhouse. Hot weather crops are basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, peppers, eggplants, and squash. Too early to put these guys outside!

So then, what should you sow and grow?

The cool weather crops love this  crazy weather and actually dislike heat. Many will bolt (go to seed) as soon as the higher temps hit.


Sow these seeds now... 
- Peas
- Beets
- Shallots and spring onions
- Cabbage
- Radishes
- Carrots
- Lettuce
- Spinach
- Turnips
- Swiss Chard
- Cabbage
- Herbs ... cilantro, dill, parsley


Starter plants to put out this month... 
- Peas, succession sow every two weeks this month for a lovely harvest all the way through till July!
- Kale
- Broccoli
- Cauliflower
- Greens like Pak Choi and Gai Lan
- Swiss chard
- Celery
- Cabbage
- Lettuce
- Onions, seedlings or sets
- Asparagus
- Brussels sprouts


Potatoes - chit them now (pre-sprout) for early spuds. 
Plant anytime between mid April through mid-June. 


Herbs ... plant cilantro, dill, parsley, lavender, oregano, thyme, sage 


Annual flowers ... from seeds or starters (or both) 
- Sweet peas
- Snapdragons
- Cosmos
- Calendula
- Nasturtiums
- Dianthus
- Sweet Alyssum
- Marigolds


End of the month... Sow Zinnias and sunflowers from seed. 

 Harvest winter leeks!

Happy growing!