Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Garden in April

*The following information is excerpted from my Perpetual Gardening Calendar.  I’ll let you know when the print run is done and it is once again available for sale! Until then I will be posting the “what to do in the garden” portion of the calendar right here each month!*

Depending on your zone, it is time to get your beds ready for transplants!  If we are planting pole beans or climbing peas, we put our trellis up right after direct seeding.  This way we can make sure the plants have something to climb and we aren't untangling vines in a few weeks and trying to train them to climb....not a fun chore!

Plant your first stand of corn after your apple trees bloom and then plant again every two weeks.  Don't forget to plant a succession of corn.  Although it is good to be able to harvest bushels and bushels of corn for canning, we like to have it to eat fresh for as long as possible.  By planting a little bit each week it lengthens our season.  We also plant different varieties with different growing times.  It allows us to sample different flavors too!  We are trying to decide what our favorite heirloom variety is so that we can save seed once we figure it out.

Our biggest predator for corn is coons - we lost our entire crop one year to coons!  You can plant squash or melons along the edges of your stand of corn.  Several rows of these prickly plants help to deter coons - they don't like to walk over them.  An electric fence works wonders also.  I also know of several farmers here who stake their dogs out at night in their corn fields.  Please remember not to plant squash and melons next to each other - choose one or the other.  The cross-pollination that takes place can leave your melons without that sweet flavor you are looking forward to!

Plan on saving seed this year, that is if HR 875 doesn't pass which will make that illegal! (If you haven't written or called your representatives about this bill please stop and do so right now!) There are many good books on saving seed and I'm sure plenty of information on the interent...at least while it is still legal!  Saving seed is very easy to do and saves you lots of money....start with something this year and then add to your knowledge each year.

If you have fruit trees, now is the time to put out sticky traps - dont' wait until they bloom!  You can buy expensive traps or you can purchase some Tanglefoot and paint some index cards or small round, red balls and hang them in your trees.

Start the following seeds under grow lights or in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill: Cantaloupe, cucumbers, melons, okra, peppers, summer squash, tomatoes.

Direct seed the following:  Arugula, beets, bush beans, carrots, corn, dry beans, lettuces, greens, potatoes, pole beans, radishes.

Transplant these if you started seeds last month: celery, leeks, lettuces, shallots, strawberries, herbs.

If you've really been diligent you can harvest the following this month: arugula, asparagus, cabbage, greens (all types) kale, lettuce, mache, onions and radishes.

Don't forget to grow a wide variety of herbs for cooking, medicine and teas.

Don’t forget to inoculate your legume seeds (beans, peas) before sowing to be sure that nitrogen-fixing bacteria will be present in the soil.  You can find it in garden catalogs and in garden centers.

Be sure to succession plant for longer harvests.  For example, sow lettuce seed every week or two so that you have a continual harvest.

Plant nasturtiums with squash, marigolds with beans, and borage with strawberries to repel bugs!

Remember!  If you have planted directly into the garden and find you are facing an unexpected cold snap, cover your plants with row cover for protection.  Last night I put heaters in the greenhouse because it was SNOWING!   IN APRIL!!

I hope the above helps you keep on track for April.  I will continue to post my garden calender to do list again at the beginning of each month until my calendar is finished and available for sale once again.


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