April Garden Guide
April is a great month for gardening, since there's a lot of preparation that we can do to make the rest of the growing season go more smoothly and be more productive. Keeping busy with garden prep can help put in time while we wait for the weather to stabilize and the soil to warm - especially this year!
Here's an overview of some garden tasks for April.
1. Cover your garden soil.
There are two options for this: A) a living cover, such as oats, which are cold hardy, and can be planted now to improve your soil for the growing season. They can be turned under a few days before planting your vegetables.
B) A non-living cover, such as a dark tarp, landscape fabric, or even cardboard. This will protect the soil from spring winds and rains, and it will provide a sheltered environment for the soil life to flourish. Just be sure to anchor your cover well, so it doesn't blow away!
2. Pull (or hoe out) perennial weeds.
Perennial weeds and grasses (that are in the wrong spot) are generally still tiny at this time of year - and so much easier to remove now than in a month or two when they're much more obvious.
3. Top up mulch around garlic and perennials.
Mulch often settles over the winter. Now is the ideal time to fill in any bare spots, which will help prevent weed seeds from germinating.
4. Plant some early-season, cold-hardy crops.
Some vegetables actually prefer cool weather, and can be planted as early as April. For example, spinach, lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, radishes are some of the crops that can be planted in April.
The only catch is that they might need some protection on frosty spring nights. It doesn't take much to keep them thriving though! Even a simple cover will protect them from frost, as long as the cover isn't touching the leaves. Covering them is a good idea anyways, since the crops will do better if they are protected from spring winds. As long as the plants have adequate ventilation on sunny days, they'll be set!
5. Finish pruning fruit trees, grape vines and perennials.
There's a fairly wide window of time for pruning these trees and plants - and the time is almost up in April. They should all be pruned or cut back while they're still dormant. Old dead growth on perennials and raspberry canes can all be cleared away, making room for new growth.
6. Clean and sharpen your tools.
There's nothing like starting the season with ready-to-use tools. A little time spent maintaining them will make them so much more enjoyable (and easier) to use. A bit of oil, a bit of sharpening, a bit of cleaning... it all adds up to a much more enjoyable gardening experience!
7. Finish your garden plans for the year.
Now is the time to finalize your plans. What will you plant? How much of each crop? What will you use for mulch? Where will you source it? What will you use for a watering system? How will you feed your plants? Will you be using any season-extension techniques to extend your harvest window?
Maybe you have everything planned for the year, and you're just waiting for the weather to become favourable. If not, spending some time planning the final details for your garden can help curb the itch to start planting too soon.
All the best with your garden this Spring!