Gardening Tasks: April

The temptation in April is to plant seeds and seedlings on the warm sunny days… but… there will certainly be lots of cold, windy, rainy days before the plants are really able to put on meaningful growth.

Therefore, it’s best to focus on planning, preparation, and Spring cleanup, and not get too excited about planting quite yet.

The exception to this is if you have a little greenhouse. Then, you can get a headstart on planting.

The other exception is if you have row cover (a lightweight fabric that protects delicate seedlings from the wind, and buffers the temperature on cold nights). Plants will grow a little faster under this cover - but it doesn’t give the same headstart as a greenhouse.

What to Plant in April

Arugula - direct-seeded, spreading the seeds thickly (eg, several seeds per inch of row)

Lettuce - either direct-seed baby leaf lettuce, a few seeds per inch of row, or transplant seedlings for head lettuce

Spinach - the seeds germinate best in cool weather! Sow the seeds every inch or sow in the row

Kale - seedlings; set them out 12 - 18 inches apart

Chard - seedlings; set them out 12 - 18 inches apart

Onions - either sets (baby onion bulbs) or seedlings; set them out every 3-5 inches

Potatoes - for the earliest new potatoes, but save your main crop of potatoes to plant in May

Radishes - direct-seeded, 1-2 seeds per inch of row

Peas - direct-seeded, 2-3 seeds per inch of row

The caveat to planting in April is two-fold:

  • Plant your seeds or seedlings on a warm, sunny day, when the ground is dry and warm. If the ground is still cold and wet, it’s not ready.

  • Be prepared with old sheets or ‘row cover’ or some other protection for your seedlings on the frosty nights that will come.

Seeds You can Start Indoors in April

Tomatoes (mid April)

Peppers (early to mid April)

Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower (late April)

Kale, Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, Lettuce (mid to late April)

Leeks, Onions, Shallots

What to Harvest in April

Watch for the first shoots of asparagus.

If you’re into foraging, or have a wild edge on your property, the first tall shoots of nettles will be ready for steaming by the end of the month, and you may even find some morel mushrooms!

What to Plan in April

Finalize your garden plan.

  • What vegetables or herbs will you plant?

  • How much of each crop?

  • Do you have seeds for everything, or know where to buy seedlings?

  • Do you have a source of compost or other form of natural soil fertility lined up?

Maintenance in April

Compost: can be turned and/or applied on your garden beds

Mulch: top up mulch around perennial crops, or prepare a stash of mulch for spreading around your vegetable seedlings later.

Types of mulch: shredded leaves, old hay or straw, even cardboard; landscape fabric is another option

Perennial crops: if you have crops like asparagus or rhubarb, clear away the debris from last year, so that the soil is clear for the new shoots to emerge

Plant a “green manure” on parts of your garden that won’t hold vegetable seeds or seedlings for at least several weeks. More details on this later. In a nutshell, this is a crop like oats, or a mix of oats and peas, that grow well in cool weather, and give the micro-organisms in the soil a boost by feeding them through their roots, and enriching the soil for the vegetable crop to follow.

Prep a batch of homemade fertilizer (details to follow). You’ll be set to go when the better planting weather of May arrives!