A GROWING CONCERN: April showers lead to gardening chores


WELL, WE HAVE certainly had “April showers” last week, fueling the coming of “May flowers”. Not only is April filled with gardening chores, but our beautiful weather has conspired to speed up and condense the workload. Here is your work list for April.

1. Jump Start. There’s no better way to get a superior head start than to sow, grow and “strengthen” plants in a cold setting. Cool frames – by their nature of being immersed in the heat of the Earth and with a radiation-enhancing cover (preferably glass) magnifying the sun’s rays – induce and protect your plants from frost and bad weather in spring and summer. ‘fall. You can grow grains and vegetables all year round because you can have starter plants ready when you want and need them. Build or buy a cold frame or two, or clean up an old frame abandoned on the side of the house.

2. Circle it. A month ago I warned everyone about how fast the various perennials would grow skyward like a bean in a fairy tale, but it’s not a fairy tale how your tall perennials can be beautiful and upright. Or how hideous and hunched over like a troll they will become if left untreated. Stake, cage, hoop or tie them up.

3. Bulberific. Now is the best time and place on the planet to grow bulb plants for the summer and fall garden. Of course, dahlias should be on everyone’s list, but also gladioli, liatris, calla lilies, daylilies, peonies, hostas, hardy cyclamen, Asiatic lilies, oriental lilies, begonias and astilbes. All of these are on the shelves for sale.

4. Pinch me, baby. I recently discussed the how and why of pinching, and then pinching again, your fall-flowering sedums, chrysanthemums, and asters. In fact, I also pinch off the first shoots when they are 4-5 inches tall. This week, if you look around, these plants might already be 8-10 inches tall. This means you have to look around, pinch these babies again or for the first time.

5. Containerize. With the arrival of April, the cold weather is banished from the land and the garden outlets are full of beautiful hardy perennials and small woody ornamentals, even early vegetable offerings. This is the perfect time to plant containers for the deck, patio or front entrance with spring plants. Then, if you pull up these plants in June, you can plant a summer pot using the spring perennial in and around your garden for years of enjoyment (a bonus double round). I especially like blueberries for this use. Containers are easy to grow and harvest, as well as water.

6. Limestone. This is the perfect time to remember that lime is the miracle drug for many gardens or plants. Shade trees and deciduous specimens like lime, just like your lawn, orchard, vegetable patch, perennials, flower beds, vines, roses and most non-native ground covers. Go to a farm and feed store and buy large bags of granulated lime for easy, dust-free, and precise applications.

7. They’re back. Those pesky caterpillars that have been torturing and devouring your plants for the past two years are sure to be back, albeit in fewer numbers due to the increase in predators. Look for them first as egg sacs — small, half-inch, shiny gray, styrofoam-like structures around the ends of the twigs. Crush them. Spray plants with host-specific BHT products found at well-stocked garden and greenhouse centers. If you prefer, you can prune them, but be sure to throw them in the trash or they’ll pop right back out. You can also cremate them if you are allowed to make a fire outside your place of residence.

8. Other garden thieves. April is when the length of the sun’s day combines with soil and air temperatures to accelerate the growth and spread of weeds, slugs, insects and mice (we’ll talk about mice later). next week). It doesn’t matter if you did those chores last week, come outside and do them again, pull weeds, reapply pet slug bait, set up mouse traps, a hoe, and mulch.

9. Take good care of your children. The offspring of these magnificent bulbs are already wilting. Cut their flowers as they fade. Plow and cultivate the soil. Fertilize and weed so that next year’s harvest is even better. How you care for your spring bulbs when they finish flowering will determine how much energy they can store in their warehouse for next year’s performance.

10. Stock up. Think about what you use a lot or need all the time in your garden, and put those supplies in now while supplies are available and inventory and selection are at an all-time high. Get a load of topsoil and mulch, buy bags of fertilizer and lime, plus plenty of slug bait, herbicide, gloves, insecticidal soap, socks, hose and stakes to be ready for any task. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ve eliminated all the weeds. Our weather will hatch another batch before your gloves have a chance to dry out.

And for all of you, stay dry!


Andrew May is a freelance writer and ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA”. Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, PO Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] (subject line: Andrew May).


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