Sprouting Ideas- April 2014

April showers bring May flowers! It’s an age old expression but it rings true for all of us who have been waiting out this long winter for a hint of green on the ground. April is also the month that we celebrate Earth Day and one great way to honor this day, is to plant a garden that is friendly to bees and butterflies.

Yes, it’s time to plant!

To prepare, first clear away that last bit of debris with a rake and broom. Consider taking out or uncovering any plants that were put away over the winter. If you have any in a cold frame, let the sunshine in and remember to cover them at night just in case a frost occurs.

If you are starting fresh with seeds, remember to read the packages carefully and choose seeds that are younger and fresher. If you are planting vegetables, the trend this year is to choose organic seeds. Remember to check your soil. Topdress according to the label and add a layer of fresh compost. Wait until it warms a bit before putting down mulch.

One simple trick that can help is to add crushed egg shells to your compost for the soil. They are chock full of calcium carbonate which if beneficial to your plants. A woman in New Jersey used that trick to save an old rose bush in her back yard. It came back to life and full bloom within one season.

If the ground is still frozen or unworkable, you can begin with potting some violas or pansies. Of course, now would be the perfect time to prune some of those dead branches and leaves too. Also look ahead and plan for groundcover to fill in the spacing between your flowers.

Feed bulbs, (including garlic!) with an organic fertilizer labeled for them as green shoots get up and growing.  After they flower, deadhead the spent flowers only, but let the foliage wither on its own. This is how bulbs feed themselves so don’t cut off the greens until they die back, approximately least 6 weeks later. Tender bulbs like cannas, callas, tuberous begonias, dahlias get a head start if potted up indoors now, then transplanted after all frost danger passes.

Consider keeping a journal to record planting and blooming times, your successes and failures with certain plants and to keep track of your seeds and technique.

TIP: An easy way to keep your fingernails clean after gardening is to run your nails into a bar of soap before gardening and after gardening use a nail brush to remove the soap.

Remember that gardening is a wonderful family tradition for many. If you have children, consider including them in this seasons planting. Remember to take pictures of your garden for Facebook and show it off to your friends.

As always, have fun. Happy Gardening!