by Yvonne Bulk –
Now that winter is over – and what a winter it was! – it is time to get our hands dirty. It’s still a little early to plant any tender annuals, but let’s talk about some ways you can already get out there.
April is a great month to start your vegetable garden as long as the soil is not compact, and water logged. Once you have prepared your soil by removing weeds and applying manure or compost, you can sow cool weather veggies: arugula, broccoli, leeks, lettuce, kale, peas, spinach, cabbage, onions, turnips, parsnips and radishes.
Wait until late April to plant carrots, chard and beets. Dig over your potato patch and plant seed potatoes. Avoid manure where potatoes will be planted as it can cause scab on them. Sow peas every month through June to ensure fresh peas into October. Similarly, for your greens, plant a little each month for succession harvesting.
If starting from seed is not your thing, nurseries are stocked with veggie starts that are ready to be planted.
And what is summer without strawberries? Yes, summer will come, and you’ll want to have some of that luscious fruit! If you plan to grow strawberries, be sure the bed has plenty of manure or compost, and while you are at it put some compost on your rhubarb as well.
If you are tight on space, many veggies and some fruits can be planted in large pots for a patio garden. Some good choices are arugula, spinach, kale, swish chard, lettuce, carrots, bush beans, strawberries and even potatoes. Later in May you can add tomatoes and cucumbers that you have already started indoors or bought from your local garden centre.
Needing some colour in your life after this white winter? Perhaps plant up a container with pansies, flowering bulbs and primulas to brighten up your front door. Now is also a good time to plant new perennials, roses, trees, shrubs, small fruits and hardy herbs. Make the planting hole two times the size of the root ball and add some bone meal and a modest amount of compost. Don’t forget to water new transplants frequently during their first year of growth. Give fertilizer to all your established trees, shrubs, and perennials. Divide early spring flowering bulbs, such as snowdrops, when they have finished flowering. Replant immediately and water well. Hold off trimming down bulbs such as tulips and daffodils until the foliage is yellowing, as this process is feeding the bulb for next year. Purchase summer flowering bulbs, roots and tubers such as dahlias, lilies, gladiolas and plant as recommended.
As soon as forsythia and other early spring bloomers are done flowering, prune them back. If your forsythia has become massive give it a hearty prune – don’t worry: it’ll come back. You do, however, need to be gentle with pruning your lavender – avoid cutting back more than 25 percent of each stem.
If you have not yet done so, it is time to put lime on your lawn. It is an important soil conditioner that helps your lawn absorb fertilizer and deters moss from growing. Lime does not kill moss, but does neutralize the pH of the soil, making fertilizer applications more effective. With our heavy West Coast rainfalls much of the fertilizer in the soil is washed away and needs to be replaced at regular intervals. Early April is the time for its spring feed.
Need more advice? Head over to your local garden centre and have a chat with the experts there – we want to be sure you start out this season with a spring in your step!
Ready. Set. Garden!