April Garden Chores

A little late in posting this month's chores, since I've been trying to get to them myself.

Garden cleanup is in full swing. Here is a corner of my
front garden on my property line.
- I'm still cutting down old growth from last year and raking up leaves. (I'm a little behind on the leaves part because I never had time to rake this past fall.) Try not to walk on soil that is too wet because this can compact it.

- You can create new paths (and even garden beds) by layering cardboard on top of grass and then covering with mulch. I am in the process of collecting cardboard on my back patio. It looks strange, but it will have a home soon.

- Sow peas! I still haven't sown mine as I type this. The weather was too cold up until a few days ago. I plan to soak mine in water overnight (this helps germination) and then plant them in the soil. The time window for getting peas in the ground is small because they stop producing when the temperature gets too warm.

- Tomatoes and peppers, oh my! I'll be starting these seeds this week (week of April 6). I try not to start them too soon or they get leggy.

- Keep sowing seeds as the month goes on. I have all my seeds sorted into file folders so I know what to plant next. I've fallen behind with some, but I just keep on sowing.

- As soon as the buds begin to swell on the roses, I trim them. (I've also heard it's safe to prune with the forsythia blooms.) I trim out old, diseased or damaged canes and try to remove canes that will impede air flow.

- Prune out old, dead branches on honeysuckle vines. When done in spring, the plant sets new growth more easily.

- Prune clematis. Margaret Roach has advice here.

- Scatter bulb fertilizer around emerging bulbs. I like to use Espoma's Bulb Tone.

- Top dress roses and other perennials with compost. Top dress rhubarb with well-rotted manure.

Mason bees help pollinate in the early spring.
Fruit Trees
- I have better luck with my fruit trees if I purchase honey bee lures. These use a pheromone to attract bees to the flowers (especially important for my pear trees, which aren't as attractive as apple trees blossoms).  Last year I used Peaceful Valley's lures, and they worked really well! I also have a mason bee house to encourage these non-stinging bees to set up residence in my garden. I found a few on my crocus blossoms today.

Garden Structures
- Now's a good time to put in or repair fencing and trellises. The garden hasn't grown in yet and areas are more accessible because of it.

Most importantly, it's easy to get overwhelmed this month. Remember: slow and steady. If you do a little bit in the garden every day or every other day, you'll have less work to do when the season kicks into high gear.



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