The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Getting ready for a Four o’clock season – The cool soil of April days is ready to receive the tough barrel shaped seeds of the colorful four o’clock‘s. You can purchase these flowers in packets for less than two dollars at seed shops, hardwares, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Walmart. If you sow these now, you will have blooms from June all the way until frost. They come in colors of red, yellow, white and pink. You can order shaded and speckled varieties from Burpie and Parks but they will cost more than two dollars! Four o’ clocks are beautiful not only for colorful displays of blooms but they’re lush bright green foliage adds glow to blooms. What other annual brings so much color over such a long season?

Still time for a row or bed of lettuce – Lettuce is definitely a cool weather vegetable, but there are plenty of heat resistant varieties that will endure all the way into June. Burpie has several lettuce varieties that produce a quick harvest and others that are tolerant to warm temperatures. One variety that will produce a harvest in 28 to 35 days is named “baby blend” and has red and green oak type leaves as well as Romain type leaves. As sleeves are cut, others will grow back. Another Burpee lettuce that is tolerant to the heat of June is named “butter crunch” and it takes 75 days to make a harvest, but it’s heat resistance will make it worth the time. The good news is Lowe’s home improvement and Home Depot feature racks of Burpee seeds so you will not have to order them if they have them on their seed displays. Remember – lettuce seeds in the packet contain 300 to 500 seeds will go along way!

Last opportunity to plant Irish potatoes – As we reach the middle of the month of April, this is your last opportunity to plant a row of Irish potatoes and have enough time for harvest before the dog days in mid July. You can set out Kennebec, Yukon Gold, Irish Cobbler, or Red Pontiac. Always set out whole potatoes and do not cut them to separate eyes because this promotes mold and rot. Set potatoes about 10 to 12 inches apart and covered with a layer of Pete Moss and then a layer of soil and tamp down the soil with a hoe blade after planting, wait until they sprout before dressing each side of the road with fertilizer and then pull soil up on each side of the row. All during the growing season, keep plenty of soil pulled up in the hills around the potato foliage to promote potato tubers as season moves on towards harvest time of 85 to 90 days.

Anticipation of the aroma of April showers – We are longing for the fresh April scent that only April showers can produce. April showers, even though they are rare in this 21st-century, are said to have a reputation of bringing the flowers of May. We certainly hope that this year they live up to their reputation! We would settle for a few showers to refresh the nostrils and fill the birdbath, and give new budding tree leaves a dusting on their petticoat!

A gamble on the first row of green beans – A gamble on a row of green beans is well worth the time and effort and the odds of an early harvest is well worth the gamble. But a half pound of Blue Lake Bush or Kentucky Wonder bush green beens and start them off next week. Add an application of Pete Moss to the soil and seed before covering them up and ramp down the soil to make contact with seed.

Getting rosebushes off to a good start – As April moves to the halfway mark, it’s time to turn our attention to the rose bushes and give them a jumpstart into spring and summer. Cut back all canes and hips. Dig around the base of the bushes and apply pellet rose fertilizer. Make sure the bud graft is exposed. Mid April is a great time to plant new rosebushes. Always purchase roses in containers that have plenty of new growth on them. Never buy rosebushes in plastic containers because they are usually dried out and stunted. Pay more and get a quality rosebush. In planting and gardening, you always get what you pay for!

The last frost date is three days away – Even though this is the so-called last frost date, don’t bank on it because April in all it’s fickleness still has 18 days remaining and we can have some frost even into the month of May. We know there are plenty of tomato plants around, but let them stay where they are and don’t set out any in your garden plot right now because of a frost threat and also the soil is still too cold for warm weather tomatoes. Even if they survive, the plants of mid-May will quickly catch up and pass them.

Careful with warm weather crops – April is a fickle month when it comes to weather conditions which means we can expect plenty of cold along with a bit of warmth. Please only plant the warm weather vegetables that you can cover and protect. Soil temperatures are still chilly for this time of April. The last frost date may be only a few days from now but anytime in April, a frost can occur. Even a little snow is not completely out of the ordinary.

Plenty of robins on April mornings – We believe robins are around all year long and we see them even during the cold month of January. They have a lot of warm areas to winter over and the ground does not freeze that many times. They still can find plenty of food, so why should they fly south?

Enjoying more color on spring roses – Blooms on the roses of spring and into the summer will be more colorful if you apply some Epson salt’s around the roots and mix it in with the soil. Apply this once a month. Water the roses to soak in the Epson salt‘s.

Spring is the time to start summers annuals – Mid-April has arrived and the days of warmer temperatures are very near. Pots and containers as well as hanging baskets can be planted. You can check the colorful displays of annuals and purchase your choices for your porch, deck or flower garden this weekend on Saturday, April 14 at Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse on Dalton Road in King from 7:30 am until 4 pm. This is their spring open house and they will be serving hotdogs from 11 am 1 pm. Come enjoy a hotdog, bask in the colorful flower displays and purchase your annuals, perennials, hanging baskets and vegetable plants.

Ray Baird