YARD AND GARDEN
When April comes, she rarely plays any practical jokes. Unlike this year’s prankster March with its false-alarm spring days, April holds real promise of long term good weather. With this kind of guarantee, we can (and should) get many projects started this month. Here’s a list of reminders.
Vegetables: Starting now: plant seeds of beet, carrot, chard, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, mustard, onion, parsnip, pea, radish, rutabaga, spinach and turnip. The following are best set out as started plants after April 15: asparagus (crowns), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, herbs, horseradish (root), parsley, white potato (tuber) and rhubarb (root).
This list may seem simple enough, but it is always good practice to know the specific details of planting and care each vegetable type being planted and harvested. There is very good information that can be downloaded. In the case of vegetable gardening books, most all of which are very usefull, I like *Week by Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook” by Ron and Jennifer Kujawski. And “Veggie Gardener’s Answer Book “ by Barbara, Ellis.
Being or becoming a successful vegetable gardener brings a sense of achievement and confidence. After all, that’s what State Fairs are all about … formal recognition of a job well done. For all gardeners who want to be winners (either just at home or at the Fair), I recommend either and/or both of the two books listed above…
as well as any one of the comprehensive ‘garden’ guides created by several University
Cooperative Extension offices, such as those of Kansas, Illinois, and other states.,
Lawns: Mow the lawn but avoid cutting it short. Take off only one third of its height. If more is cut off, the root system is weakened. All the first flush of new grass blade growth has depleted much of the food reserves in the roots. When new grass is cut very short, there is too little grass blade left to synthesize enough foods for continued vigor of the roots.
Apply fertilizer any time, preferably using the slow-release types containing urea-derived nitrogen. If crabgrass has been a problem in previous years in you lawn, then use of a fertilizer with crabgrass-preventer herbicide is appropriate now. Wait until May before applying any herbicide for control of broadleaf weeds.
Roses: Plant roses and also any other kind of shrub. About mid April remove any winter protection you may have had on established roses. Fertilize them, and prune them if necessary to cut off dead tips or twigs. However, this past winter has been so mild that all my roses have leafed out already, even those tips that were not protected by the winter mulch.
Evergreens: Prune shrubs such as yews and junipers but not pines or other evergreen trees.
Small Fruits and Fruit Trees: Set out strawberry and raspberry plants in the last two weeks of the month. Fertilize and mulch established beds.
Fertilize fruit trees when the buds begin to swell. Use 10-10-10 fertilizer, broadcasting it in a circular band starting about one foot out from the trunk and extending out to the spread of the branches, Use ¼ to ½ pound of fertilizer per year of tree age (maximum of ten pounds per tree)
If trees were pruned this February or March, then omit the fertilizing or do so very lightly. Pruning and fertilizing both stimulate growth of leaves and twigs and can inhibit flowering. Too much vegetative growth, either from too much fertilizer or from a combination of fertilizing and pruning, is to be avoided in fruit trees. Prune peach and nectarine trees just before flower buds open. Other fruit trees should have been pruned earlier.
Shade and Ornamental Trees: Now is the best season to plant dogwood, magnolia, birch, tulip tree (Liriodendron) and Japanese maple. All these have root systems which ‘take hold’ better in spring than fall. All other kinds of trees can be planted now. Be prepared to water regularly and adequately all summer (even if it rains). Ample water is the one most vital element to provide any newly planted tree or shrub … and not for just its first year … but for two years.
This is a busy month. Nature is right on schedule, as usual. Anything we do now will be making the most of all the opportunities we’ve so looked forward to all these winter months.
Copyright © 2010 – Margaret Balbach