Ray Baird

THE FICKLENESS OF THE DAYS OF APRIL The month of April can be very fickle with uncomfortable temperatures and a surprise frost and even a few flakes of snow. but hope is on the way as the month reaches the half way point and the dogwoods finish their blooming. Even though there are plenty of tomato and pepper plants in seed stores and hard-wares, don’t be in a hurry to set them out unless you just want to gamble with two or three by covering them up every night.

PREPARING FOR A SUMMER OF FOUR O’ CLOCKS It is almost time to plant a row or patch of four o’ clocks for beauty from late spring to mid-autumn. These flowers grow in all types of soil and produce plenty of green foliage and colorful flowers. Four o’ clocks can be purchased at hard-wares, seed shops, home improvement stores and garden departments. A packet costs less than two dollars and come in colors of yellow, white, burgundy, red and pink and speckled and shaded varieties. They are carefree to grow and only need a drink of liquid fertilizer once a month.

GETTING POTS AND CONTAINERS AND HANGING BASKETS READY FOR ANNUALS The month of May is only 15 days away and now is the time to the posts, containers and hanging baskets out of storage and cleaned up. Go ahead and buy a couple of bags of flower potting mix and have it ready. The annuals of impatiens, begonia, heather, salvia, geraniums, coleus, petunias, clown flowers, marigolds, vinca and poppies can soon be planted in containers and baskets for a summer of color and beauty.

MOVING THE CHRISTMAS CACTUS TO THE PORCH The Christmas cactus is ready for it’s move to the front porch next week. The cactus are now in the sunny living room where they have been since the middle of October and are definitely ready for their move outside. They will spend spring, summer and early autumn in a semi-sunny location on the front porch. They will only need a small amount of cactus medium added to their containers and a drink of liquid fertilizer every ten days.

SAVE THOSE EARLY SPRING GRASS CLIPPINGS The Grass clippings of early spring are loaded with plenty of nitrogen that will heat up the compost pile or bin. These clippings will get your first batch of compost off to a great start.

A SHARP BLADE MAKES SPRING MOWING EASIER The grass of spring has plenty of moisture and it is tough to mow. A sharp blade will make mowing easier and make for a smooth cut. It will also make mowing the lawn an easy task.

ORGANIZING THE BARN OR STORAGE BUILDING As the gardening season sets off to a start, it’s time to get all tools and equipment in order so you will know where everything is when you need it. Move everything out and then sweep the floor, remove all empty containers, old seed, broken tomato stakes and useless items that occupy valuable storage space. Re-arrange all tools and organize them so you know where everything is when you need it.

TODAY (APRIL 15, 2016) IS CONSIDERED LAST FROST DATE This is considered the last day that we receive frost for the season, but just remember that this is the fickle month of April and the nights still get cold enough for a frost to sneak in anytime during this month of April. Do not waste plants, time and money setting out warm weather crops unless you want to gamble with just a few that can be covered for protection at night. Wait until the month of May arrives to plant plant tomatoes and peppers and eggplants when nights get warmer.

STARTING OFF A PACKET OF BIG BOY TOMATOES FROM SEED THIS WEEKEND Big Boys are the very best of tomatoes and this weekend is a great time to start a packet s them so they will be ready for the garden plot by the middle of May. All you need to get them on their way is one packet of Big Boy tomato seed, a bag of seed-starting medium and one medium-sized quart pot or container. Measure out enough of the medium to fully fill the container to overflowing to allow for water to added. Mix enough water to the medium to fully moisten the medium. Fill the container to within one inch of the top. Sprinkle the seeds over the moist medium, press down and cover with a layer of medium and press it down to allow seed contact. In less than two weeks, they will develop two leaves and be ready to be individually transplanted and in about 18 to 20 days, they will be ready to transplant to the garden plot. Give the growing seedlings a drink of water every few days as they continue to grow.

A PERFECT WAY TO WATER AND SPRAY PLANTS AND VEGETABLES You don’t need bulky and heavy sprayers for your garden vegetables or plants. Just save several plastic spray bottles such as those that contain window glass cleaner, etc. Use the spray bottle filled with water to spray seedlings with a light mist of water. Another bottle can be used to mix water and insect control to be sprayed lightly just where you want it to control insects without getting any on vegetable blooms or fruits.

APRIL IS A MONTH OF SWEET SPRING ONION SETS The onions of spring will be sweeter if using the water wand on “shower” mode to give the onion shoots a drink of water twice each week when it doesn’t come an April shower. As the onion sets grow, this them out for some great eating.

WAIT UNTIL MAY TO SET OUT MOST TOMATO PLANTS It may be a huge temptation to set out a row of tomato plants in early April, especially with so many of them displayed at seed stores, home improvement warehouses and garden departments. Just remember that nights and even some April days are very cool and there is still a chance of a few more frosts on tap. Plant only the number that you can cover during the cold nights.

Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at

Ray Baird