April Gardening Chores

Eastern redbuds in bloom at Bluebird Gardens.

April Gardening Chores

My garden is starting to get serious about growing this month. It’s time to try to keep up:

1.    Clean out composters and add to flower beds and fruit trees. Mix with existing soil for now; you will mulch this later. Leave a good bucket of finished compost as starter for the next compost batch and start adding leaves, grass clippings if you have them, kitchen scraps and water. Don’t forget to mix.

2.    Prune lilacs immediately after they bloom. If you wait until later in the season, you will be cutting off next year’s blooms.

3.    Continue to sow lettuce, spinach and radish seeds every 10 days or so for fresh spring salads in your round foot garden. I would call it my pot garden but that leads you to believe I am growing something completely different. Call it your garden in pots, if you prefer.

4.    If you like to grow peas, this is the last month to plant sugar snap peas and snow peas, they prefer cooler weather conditions. To keep their roots happy, mulch with cardboard to keep them cool, then add a layer of wood chips.

Daffodils in bloom around the corner from the front of my house at Bluebird Gardens.

Daffodils in bloom around the corner from the front of my house at Bluebird Gardens.

5.    As daffodils and tulips continue to grow and bloom, sprinkle compost around them to keep the bulbs well fed. As the flowers fade, remove them by snipping off the flower heads. Leave the greenery until it turns yellow; the green leaves help the bulbs store energy for next season’s blooms. Don’t mow the leaves down with the lawn mower until they turn yellow or the bulbs will gradually become smaller and you will not have any more blooms next spring.

6.    If you have a vegetable garden area, this is a good time to add cardboard to kill off any growth prior to summer planting. Don’t till it, the prevailing thought now is that tilling damages the soil ecosystem. Kill the plants you don’t want, make holes to plant the ones you do, or make trenches to plant seeds, and cover. Easy peasy. Who doesn’t like easy gardening??

7.    Start your summer plants inside in containers you can transplant outside later; tomatoes, peppers, watermelons, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, zucchini.

8.    Don’t forget companion plants to reduce crop damage; basil is a good bug deterrent for a lot of plants.

9.    Plant for pollinators as well. I love zinnias and so do butterflies and bees. Native plants such as New England Asters, yarrow and purple coneflowers are good choices for pollinators because they have long blooming seasons. For another good annual, try sunflower seeds. Birds will love the seeds in the fall.

10.  Enjoy the beauty of Missouri’s native trees, these usually bloom this month, redbuds and dogwoods. Better yet, plant a few more native trees along with compact dwarf fruit trees. Although planting native flowers is still good for pollinators, trees provide better, and more reliable, pollen sources for bees. The smaller fruit trees are good pollen sources as well and, when pollinated by bees, will also give you easily accessible fruit to pick. That’s what I call a win-win!