By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)
With the arrival of warmer temperatures, preparing thegarden for spring planting can feel quite chaotic. From seeding to weeding, itis easy to lose focus on the tasks taking precedence over others. April in theNortheast marks planting time for many crops. With so many tasks to keep up, agardening to-do list is an excellent way to get ready for the correspondingseason.
Northeast Garden Guide
While some April garden tasks are quick and easy, others mayrequire more time and dedication.
April Gardening To-Do List
- Clean garden tools – Cleaning and preparing garden tools for the growing season is essential to beginning April garden tasks. Making sure that tools are clean and in proper working order makes it easier to care for plants and prevents the spread of disease in the garden. So, if you haven’t already done so, get those tools in tip-top shape. Once tools are ready to use, the real work starts as we prepare soil beds and maintain plantings.
- Prep garden beds – In addition to maintaining new plants, which go into the garden soon, you will need to focus on the preparation of garden beds. The removal of weeds from overgrown gardens not only helps keep things tidy but also makes it easier once the soil is ready to be worked. Clear, prepared beds allow us to better visualize and plan garden layouts too.
- Get your soil ready – Early spring soil tests can reveal important information about garden health, including which nutrients may or may not to be necessary. You can then amend the soil as needed.
- Plant cool season crops – Many Northeast garden guides note that April is an ideal time to plant cool-season crops like carrots and lettuce. And if you’ve not already done so, make sure tender crops like tomatoes, beans or peppers are started indoors, as they’ll be ready to go out within another month or so.
- Get last minute pruning done – April garden tasks also involve the completion of any remaining pruning chores that may have been overlooked. This includes the removal of tree branches to maintain size and taking out any dead stems from flowering shrubs or perennials.
- Give plants a spring feeding – Fertilization can also take place at this time, as the plants begin to burst into life for the coming growing season.
- Be observant – Last, but certainly not least, gardeners will need to begin honing in those observation skills. Though, technically, not a task on the gardening to-do list, April marks a period of change in the garden. You should become vigilant of changes such as insect presence, disease, and other issues.
Proactive growers can better prevent common garden issueswhich may negatively impact their crops.
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Gardening in the Mid Spring
This is the time when days grow longer and warmer, so it is a busy month in the garden for both plants and gardeners alike. April is also traditionally a month when showers can be expected, however, be prepared for dry and windy spells and water plants where necessary. Also keep vigil for frosty nights and continue to protect vulnerable plants and shrubs.
Despite the unpredictable weather, many of the most colourful flowers are in bloom this month, with bulbs putting on their finest display and ornamental fruit trees covered in blossom.
Although early flowering plants, blossom and spring bulbs can give good displays in early spring much of the interest, colour and structure in the garden will be provided by evergreens, flowering shrubs and coloured stems (see picture).
The weather should be well and truly improving, and the time has come to sow and plant a huge range of ornamental plants and vegetables. April is also an ideal time for starting new plants and dividing old stock.
Make room for new growth by removing weeds and tidying-up flowerbeds and borders, under hedges and around shrubs.
Pay special attention to the lawn, if you have not already done so. Mow the grass more frequently and apply a spring feed. There is still time to sow a lawn or lay turf, if you did not do it in March.
Keep seedlings free of weeds using the hoe at first sign of trouble.
Colourful shrubbery display in early April - RHS Garden Hyde Hall
In the vegetable garden
Enjoy fresh asparagus this spring
Image: Asparagus 'Burgundine' from Thompson & Morgan
Get busy with these vegetable garden tasks this April:
- Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds.
- Dig a 5-cm (or more) layer of compost, well-rotted manure or green waste into beds.
- Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.
- Build raised beds to take the bending out of growing vegetables.
- Harvest asparagus spears when they’re no more than 18 cm tall.
- Support pea and bean plants now. For quick and easy pea supports, push some twiggy sticks around your plants.
- Thin carrot seedlings to achieve good-sized carrots do this in the evening when fewer carrot flies are around.