The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The fickle month of April is here – April is now six days old and a highlight of the month is the fact we can expect the last frost of the season in about three weeks, but there is a possibility that we may have some lingering frost even into the merry month of May. One thing we can be sure of is there will be plenty of cold nights during the month of April and plenty of unpredictable weather surprises because April is the most fickle month of the year.

Where is the power of the April showers? Where are the April showers that used to come our way and songwriters wrote about? April showers may not be a thing of the past but seem to be rarer these days. We remember when they were almost a daily April event when umbrellas were a carryout item of the day. Is it global warming or global cooling? We are longing for an April filled with showers and the aroma of a daily fresh April-soft shower. Maybe we need to carry an umbrella in expectation of an April shower!

Getting ready for early hummingbirds – April may be a cool month but it is also the month that some hummingbirds arrive early. It is a good idea to place a hummingbird feeder out this weekend in case some birds arrive earlier than usual. Very few flowers are now blooming and their food supply will be limited. After you see a hummer at the feeder, then you can place other feeders out for them.

A great lightweight pot or container bottom filler – Instead of using heavy rocks or stones to absorb moisture in containers or pots, mash or crush aluminum soft drink cans and place them in the bottom of the container or pot. The containers and pots will be lighter and much easier to move and the cans will absorb more moisture.

Time is growing short for cabbage and broccoli plants – The deadline is approaching to plant broccoli and cabbage plants during cool April days and nights. You can still find healthy plants at most hardware and seed shops. Choose plants that have bluish-green stems and dark green leaves that have not legged out or damped of and turned yellow at the stems. If you buy six packs or nine packs, be sure they have six or more healthy plants in them.

Spring is in full swing and so are the robins – The lawn is filled with robins each morning looking for worms and insects. We believe they never really leave us in winter because we saw many of them last year on Christmas Eve on the lawn. They have so many warm places to hole up in not only in sheds, barns and nooks but also in hollow trees, logs and even brush piles and holes. Wherever we see them, we think of spring and they are welcome additions.

Don’t be fooled by April’s fickleness – April Fool’s Day was recently celebrated, but don’t be fooled by a warm April day and please don’t waste time, energy and money on planting warm weather vegetables except for maybe a few tomato seed that you can baby up for transplanting to next month’s garden plot. Remember that April is capable of producing frost and even snow!

A tender crop of sweet spring greens – Nothing sends a message of spring like a row or bed of spring garden greens. They grow quickly in cools spring soil and will be up and on their way in 8 to 10 days after sowing. You can choose from a mixture of rape, kale, tender-leaf, Florida broadleaf, tender-green, curly mustard, curly kale, green turnip or spinach. All of these varieties cost the same and the hardware or seed shop will mix you an ounce or more in the ratio that you desire. We always choose half curly mustard and half all other varieties for a sweet spring mixture.

Open an hour of extra daylight – Since late December, we have been gaining an extra minute of daylight each evening and now it has added up to more than an hour. In addition, last month we gained another hour of daylight when Daylight Savings Time returned.

Planting spring onion to enhance spring greens – Spring onion sets are an easy cool weather vegetable that goes well with a bowl of greens in spring. You can buy a pound of onion sets for around three dollars in colors of red, white and yellow. If you set them out at the same time you plant your greens, they should both be ready to harvest at the same time.

Ray Baird