It’s hard to sit still when my April garden chore list is long and growing longer, and the snow is deep (for April) and going to get deeper. Yes, that’s right, it’s the second week of April and we still have snow. There’s more coming. I could make “plow snow off garden” first on the list but I don’t have that much of a sense of humor about this mess. Here’s the list. A lot of it will not get done until the end of April, or will be moved to the May list.
- Move the nearly finished compost to raised beds and mix in well. The raised beds have lousy dirt that I’m slowly turning into soil.
- Transplant seedlings from starting trays to six packs and individual pots.
- Add bark mulch to the worst raised beds in the high tunnel
- Muck out the hen house; start a new compost pile.
Start seeds for outdoor transplants (April 2) done
- Continue to sow seeds for perennials
- Amend soil and plant seeds for “as soon as the soil can be worked” seeds. (Beets, lettuce, peas, boc choi)
- Prune hydrangeas, grapes, and other woody perennials. Lemon thyme smells wonderful but needs a harsh pruning to clean up winter kill.
- Dig out weeds and mulch asparagus, rhubarb and comfrey beds
- Clean out beds and keep ahead of weeds in the small perennial flower gardens. Creeping Charlie is terrible.
- Sharpen tools
- Divide perennials
- Order mulch if you don’t already have it. Steve had 60 yards delivered last fall. I’m all set!
- Seed the hardy self-seeding annuals such as poppies and coneflowers
- Add dry, aged chicken manure to the garlic bed; plant garlic
- Stake peonies and other heavy perennials before they put on a lot of vegetation that makes this job tedious.
- Check stone retaining walls and re-stack as needed.
- Start planting trees and shrubs.
Adding bark mulch to the raised beds: I thought I was getting sandy loam but it’s sandy clay. Horrible stuff but I can fix it over time. I added a lot of lime in the fall. I’ll dig the fine bark mulch into the sandy clay. Maybe someday I’ll replace this mess but finding sandy loam out here wasn’t possible. It’s a hazard of living in a remote area away from garden centers.
When a seed packet says to plant “as soon as the soil can be worked” it means exactly that. You don’t have to wait until June 1, the full moon, Father’s Day, for the soil to be 70°F, or the nights to stay consistently above 55°F. As soon as you can squeeze a handful of soil and it falls apart instead of making a mud ball it can be worked. Don’t walk on wet soil because you’ll cause damage. Wait until “it can be worked.” These are cool crop seeds that don’t germinate and grow well in hot soil. I plant peas in late April when I can and pull them out for the compost pile or turn them into the soil when the peas are done in July. That area will be used for another crop that matures in cooler weather. Get an early start when possible.
Divide Perennials. I wouldn’t normally divide all of the perennials but I am this year. Stella D’Oro and other lillies are moving out to the new perennial garden. Bee balm, rhododendron, peony, liatris and more slated to move. I don’t expect all of them to survive but I also don’t expect big losses.
I don’t normally plant garlic in the spring but since I didn’t plant any last fall, spring it is. I’m using homegrown garlic that’s sprouting. I’ll plant again in the fall for next year’s crop.
The Trees are Coming!
Trees and shrubs. Damn. It’s April 10 and still snowing. The foot of heavy snow on the ground slows stops all outdoor planting. My order from Fedco will be delivered tomorrow regardless of the weather. The ground isn’t going to be ready for tree planting for three or four weeks. It’s 50 Wendy strawberries, 2 beach plums, 25 Purple Passion asparagus, 1 American hazelnut, 1 bur oak, 1 red oak, and 5 rugosa roses.
Bark Mulch in the News
About the bark mulch. There’s a bit of information about landscaping companies spraying mulch with RoundUp. That is not an issue for me. I know the source of the mulch, how old is it, where it sat while it aged and broke down, and everything else about it. You won’t find anything RoundUp related here.
What’s on your April garden chore list? Maybe you’ve got something I need to add to mine.