The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Snow in April? It is very possible! We may not have a nine inch snowfall, but could get a covering or dusting during the month. If it can frost during April, surely it can snow. Even though we could see some snow, most will quickly melt and surely cause no problem at all for cool weather vegetables already planted and thriving.

You can still plant a row or bed of lettuce: There’s still plenty of cool weather remaining to sow a row or bed of crisp green lettuce for spring salads. You can have a harvest in less than fifty days. A packet of lettuce seed costs around two dollars and you can choose from Iceberg, Black-Seeded Simpson, Butter crunch, Green Ice, Oak Leaf, Red Sails or you can purchase lettuce plants in four and six packs.

When can we expect the last frost to date? We have already mentioned the snow chances during the fickle month of April, but what about the frost situation. The last frost date is around the 15th of April but don’t be fooled, we usually have frost until the end of April and possibly a frost the first week of May and some very cool nights stretching into the first ten days of May. Do the math and don’t plant too many warm weather vegetables until May gets well on the way.

No matter what the weather, recycling is always in season! It is always in season and is the right thing to do. Even the newspaper you are now reading can be recycled. A great lesson to teach children as well as grandchildren is that of recycling. You can clean up the environment and teach others to do it by recycling cans, bottles, cardboard, newspapers, glass bottles, milk cartons, aluminum soft drink cans, liter bottles, tin cans, containers, paper tubes and foil. Place it in a rollout cart of recycle bin and keep it from reaching the trash can. You can make a huge difference in what goes to the landfill.

The season of planting perennials is here! Perennials are tough, all-season hardy and colorful outside all year long. Early spring finds them available at most seed shops, hardware’s and home improvement warehouses as well as nurseries. Many perennials such as snowdrops and Sweet William bloom even in winter for added beauty. We have transformed most of our pots and containers on the porch and deck into perennials for year-round greenery and color. You can choose from dianthus, Red Coral Bells, Purple Coral Bells, American Bee Balm, Hens and Chicks, Veronica, Candy Tuft, Lobella (Cardinal Flowers), Red Hot Poker, Dusty Miller, Colombine and Black Eyed Susan. They will grow every year and you can transplant shoots to other pots to give to friends. Perennials can be trimmed and shaped for extra beauty. We love them because they are carefree and productive, as well as very long-lasting.

Getting ready to move the Christmas cactus and Ferns outside: The Christmas Cactus, panda fern and asparagus ferns may not be classified as perennials, but we reform them into “perennials” by wintering them over in a sunny living room and then moving them back outside in mid-spring. The ferns continue to grow in winter and need to be trimmed several times. The cactus bloom and regain green foliage. All they need is a drink of water every ten days and a shot of liquid fertilizer once a month until their move to the deck and porch later this month. What an investment they are!

Getting Azaleas off and ready to bloom: The azaleas have come through autumn and winter beautifully and now getting greener each day. They need a boost of liquid azalea fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro®

to get them off to a good start and ready to bloom. This also prepares them to produce pretty dark shiny green foliage all summer.

Still time for a row of Alaska Peas: The Alaska green pea will produce a harvest in 65 days so there’s still time to sow a row in cool spring soil and expect a harvest. With this vegetable, you don’t even need to fertilize—just plant and wait because they add nitrogen to the soil.

Plenty of spring annuals in hardware’s and seed shops: An array of colorful spring and summer arrivals are now appearing in garden shops, hardware’s and home improvement departments. It’s actually not too early to pick out the ones you want to plant. You can choose from varieties such as impatiens, begonias, Boston fern, rose moss, coleus, petunias, salvia, verbena, heather and many others. Even in cool temperatures, annuals, can be moved and covered for protection.

Do not waster hummingbird nectar: The hummers should be arriving soon and now is the time to place feeders. They may not show up in big numbers but having a feeder in place will be a welcome sight for them. To avoid wasting nectar, fill feeders only half full until you actually see birds arriving at the feeders.

Don’t make a Good Friday mistake: There are many gardeners who think that Good Friday is a great time to plant the warm weather vegetables. This has been a tradition especially in eastern North Carolina for many years. We need to remember this is fickle April and no time for tomato or pepper plants even though there are lots of plants in garden departments. Even if they survive, they will experience zero growth until soil temperatures warm up. Do not plant squash, cucumbers, corn, lima beans or green beans until May arrives. Save time, seed, plants and money by waiting for warmer temperatures and no frost risks.

Planning a colorful bed of zinnias? Zinnias are the most colorful of summer flowers and come in almost every color but blue. When you sow zinnia seeds, sow the seed thinly and leave a distance between the rows. Doing this allows room to water zinnias from the bottom of the foliage to prevent leaf mildew. Never water the whole zinnia because this promotes mildew and slows bloom development. Pinch off blooms when they fade out and dry up. Thin zinnia plants if they are too close together.

Ray Baird

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