Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 2017 Edible Garden Planner

April garden with greens, dill, chives, and lettuce

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April showers bring May flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables.  Now is the perfect time to get serious on getting your spring garden planted and sowed!

Crops to plant in April
Early April is a perfect time to plant cold season crops like Brussels sprouts, fava beans, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsley, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinach, strawberries, Swiss chard and turnips.

I am giving broccoli and cabbage a rest this year since I had such a large number of pests last year.  Without their favorite food to feast on, they should move on for next year's garden.  If the summer looks good, I may even plant them for fall harvests because they love the cool temps of fall, too.

We can still get frosts in April so you want to hold off on planting warm season crops outdoors like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and squash until May unless you cover them or bring them indoors if frost does visit your garden.

I have already planted lettuce, spinach, tyfon, leeks, cilantro, and potatoes.  Overwintered carrots, cultivated dandelion, sorrel, tarragon, sage, thyme, kale, corn salad, and parsley are up and ready to eat.  

If this is your first year in gardening, here are some pointers on what to choose what to grow and get your garden going  Easy kitchen garden  If you don't have much space, you can still grow a garden either in pots or in a garden space as little as 6' x 6' Grow a Sicilian/Italian kitchen garden in as little as 6' x 6'

When you plant, make sure to fertilize and add mycorrhizae in each planting hole. Mycorrhizae are beneficial microbes that help your plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil.  Once mycorrhizae is added in that spot, it will live on in the soil so it does not have to be reapplied next year in that spot.

I like to apply fertilizer, add a thick layer of compost and top with mulch before I begin planting.  Just mulch by itself breaks down and adds organic matter to the soil.  Weed free, self fertilizing, till free garden beds

If you didn't do a soil test (you can use a kit from a garden store or big box store), use a balanced organic fertilizer like Espoma at the rate recommended.  You can make your own all natural, organic fertilizer, too, inexpensively.  Here is the link:  Make your own fertilizer, it's all natural and inexpensive

If you want to have an in-depth soil analysis done to create a fertilizer specific to your soil, here is a blog on who to send your sample to and how to get a personal fertilizer recipe  The next step in garden production and your nutrition-soil minerals

If you are re-using pots from last year, here is a link to get your potting soil ready to nourish your new plants:  Re-energize your potting soil!  It is important to get your potting soil ready to support this season's growth and veggie production.  Be sure when you fertilize to mix it into the soil or apply before you put down a protective and organic layer of mulch.  This keeps the nitrogen from oxidizing and escaping into the air instead of staying in the ground to nourish your plant.
Chives and lettuce in  mid-April garden

Frost date importance
The last frost date in our area is around April 15th.  This is important to know if you are planting seeds.  The packet tells you when to plant in relation to your last frost date.  You will get the best results following the packet instructions.  Planting early is not always a good strategy as different seeds need different soil temperatures before they will germinate.  Plant too early and they can rot before they have a chance to sprout.  When to plant your veggies

Pots will warm up quicker, but will also chill down faster.  You can put them in a sheltered spot to get a jump on spring.  I love planting greens in large self watering pots that I keep on the patio, making it handy for picking a fresh salad for dinner, and to move to a cooler spot in the hot days of summer.

When growing veggies in containers, they will require more watering and more liquid fertilizer than if they were in the ground.  In the summer, you may have to water some water lovers every day.  For more on growing in pots  Decorative container gardening for edibles  With the self-watering pots, your watering duties will be greatly reduced.

Lettuce, greens, and herbs do fabulous this month.  It is the time to indulge in daily salads. and smoothies.  Cool temperatures and lots of moisture produce the sweetest greens of the season.  
Everything you need to know about growing lettuce  Grow your own smoothie and juice garden

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