Thursday, March 27, 2014

April Chores

Yay! My first chore post published before the month actually starts! This means that you have no excuse for failing to complete ALL THE TASKS in a timely fashion! Or, you could just read and enjoy the hard work that other people put into their crops and appreciate your local farmer all the more.

General Chores
Do not forget to harden off your sprouts before planting them outside. Most nurseries take that into consideration and only sell sprouts that are already acclimated to the outdoors but it never hurts to ask.

Begin fertilizing indoor plants. Transplant root bound house plants to a larger pot. Harden them off slowly if you intend them to live outdoors for the summer.

Vegetable Garden
According to zone 8 our last frost date was around March 15th so now is when things really get hectic in a vegetable garden. Keep in mind that though our temperatures are, on average, above freezing, areas in the Pacific Northwest are actually more dictated by moisture than temperature. Can you imagine what would happen to juvenile tomatoes, peppers, and squash if they were put outside right now? They would simply rot with all our average rainfall and humidity. Besides, the rains bring out the slugs and I'm not one to put poison out in the open what with toddlers and multiple animals traipsing around. If you don't have ducks around to keep down the slug population we've found beer sunk down in the soil in tuna dishes or some other similar-sized dish works wonders over night. Just be sure to dump the beer and bodies in the morning. Otherwise creatures like my sister's dog might take advantage.

With that in mind now is the time start transplanting hardy sprouts like broccoli, cabbage, leafy greens. You can also direct sow those and moderately hardy seeds like beets, dill, carrots, chard, kale, lettuce, parsley, radish, turnip, and rutabaga.

Pick asparagus regularly to encourage it to continue producing. As production dies down allow some of the small shoots to mature into seed heads so the plant is encouraged to keep spreading.

Garlic that has overwintered should have some healthy leaves by now. Usually this is the time for the second feeding of a general bulb fertilizer. I usually rely on home made compost but I've only been growing garlic for a few years so maybe the combinations of guano, blood meal, bone meal, and phosphorus are worthwhile but I haven't tried them yet.

The first week of April is really the last call to plant warm weather plants indoors such as basil, cucumbers, melons, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, and seed potatoes. Otherwise you will run into the cool, wet weather in fall with an immature plant and no produce to speak of. Also, avoid planting bareroot plants like fruit trees and berry bushes now. They need to come from a pot to have a chance to produce this year or to set a healthy root system before winter.

Mid to late month you can start transplanting and sowing pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers. I have yet to have success direct sowing either pumpkins or winter squash because either the spring weather rots the plants and brings out too many pests or they go in the ground too late and never mature. Being able to grow winter squash and pumpkins from seed is one of the things that is most exciting to me about the greenhouse. Now I don't have to buy those sprouts and I get to be involved in the whole process!

Late in the month we can safely begin planting beans and corn. Theoretically, you can start them indoors or in a greenhouse and transplant at that time but beware that beans and corn generally dislike transplanting so you must expect to loose some of them to shock.

Flowers and Herbs
The first week of April is last call for planting summer flowering bulbs. I remember the timing (usually) because ideal planting time is around my mom's birthday. How convenient that she also likes bulbs! If you like to feed your bulbs, now is the time.

Perennials and flowering shrubs can go in now.

Most herbs can be transplanted or sown outdoors around mid month except for the especially fragile ones like basil and marjoram.


This month by month compilation was started simply for my own reference. But I was putting so much effort into it that I thought it only fair to share. The above and previous lists are from a combination of my experience and these reference materials:

Horticulture Guy

Weekend Gardener

A Way To Garden

Nichols Garden Nursery

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