I’m going to try to keep better records of what I’m doing in my garden this year. I figure doing a monthly garden chores post will do the job! For reference I am zone 6a with a last frost date of May 17.
We still had snow on the ground for most of March so my March chores got pushed to April but some of these are March chores depending on the weather.
April 7: Start Seeds
I plan for tomatoes to go in the ground for memorial day weekend. Count back 8 weeks and start my tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and in Late March. This year I planted a flat April 7, after we got back from London.
April 18,19,20: Clean Up Patriots Day
Massachusetts has a very special state Holiday. Patriots’ DayP celebrates the battle of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775. It is now celebrated on the 3rd Monday of April. It is also the day of the Boston Marathon. Stefan and I have the day off work so we get a great early-spring 3-day weekend.
Clean Flower Beds
As soon as the snow has melted and the ground is no longer frozen, it’s time to clean the beds. The bulbs were poking up and the matted leaves of late fall needed to be cleaned up
The Roses should be pruned. We had a lot of snow weight damage this year so lots of pruning. I also fertilize the Roses at this time. Ideally you should get to the roses before they start sprouting but I was a couple days late this year. I cut the showy roses (I don’t know any of the varieties) back by about 1/3 and get rid of any branches that are damaged, touch each other, or are growing into the bush instead of out. For the 2 Knock-Out roses, I prune back the branches that are growing into the bush and shape the plant into a nice round-ish shape. I don’t prune nearly as heavily since I like them to get nice and big and they flower so profusely no matter what you do. I also fertilize under the drip-line of the plant.
Clean Up Irises
I cut all the dead leaves off the iris plants to clean them up. My irises all need to be lifted. This fall I HAVE to do that!
Prune Butterfly Bush
The Butterfly Bush was getting out of control. I went ahead and whacked it way back, almost to ground level. It looks pretty bad but never fear, it will come back.
Fertilize and Prevent Weeds
I use these early spring days to fertilize the evergreens including the Arborvitae, Boxwoods, and Holly. I also spread a pre-emergent herbicide over the beds. I have a serious morning glory problem that I’d like to keep at-bay. I love Morning Glories on the fence but they start to climb the roses and pull them over. This is my first year with the pre-emergent. I’m curious how it will do. I also went over the beds and pulled any little weed sprouts. I’m really going to try to do that on a schedule every week.
April 25, 26: Mulch and Plant
Crab Grass Prevent-er
In late April, when the soil is in the 50s, it’s time to spread Crab Grass Preventer on the lawn. Crab Grass germinates when soil is between 54 and 57 degress so once the soil is up to 60 F, you’re late. We prefer a drop spreader to a spray spreader. It makes it easy to spread just when and where we want. Stefan had to duck to get under the almost-blooming cherry tree.
We purchased 16 bags of ceder mulch and spread them in all the beds this weekend. Late April is a good time for mulching, the soil has thawed and started to warm up. We buy our mulch by the bag because though we have a truck, it ends up being just about the same price if not cheaper to buy mulch by the bag and so much more convenient. Around here, many of the mulch places only have a 2 yard scoop which is more than our little truck can handle so we’d need to have it delivered and there just isn’t a good place to put it. I do love a freshly mulched bed.
16 bags did the back and left side of the yard. I suspect we’re going to need about another 16 bags to do the right side of the lawn and the front.
The yard had dried out enough to give it a good raking this weekend. All the debris of the snow cover is all cleaned up. I was tempted to do it a weekend earlier but I was worried that it was still too wet.
The lawn is greening up and that cherry tree is so close to blooming.
Prepare Veggie Garden
I topped off my veggie garden with leaves last fall. I’ve been tossing coffee grounds on the garden since it lost its snow-cover. To prepare it further, I raked off the bulk of the leave leaves and added 3 bags of composted Cow Manure to the Veggie Patch. I tilled the manure and a good bit of leaves into the patch using my handy Claw that I bought for $1 at a yard sale and LOVE. The leaves are well on their way to being decomposed and they are supposedly good at aerating the soil. I just rake the remaing leaves back onto the bed as mulch. I generally stick to the leaves from the cherry tree for the garden. They are nice and small. The maple leaves just mat and don’t decompose quick enough. Stefan did shread some of the leaves with the lawn mower last fall and those are also on the veggie garden patch.
Unfortunately, I ran into a bit of a snafu while I was preparing the garden. I discovered the reason my cherry tomatoes didn’t do so well last year. There is an asphalt sidewalk all the way around the house. Turns out there is a concrete sidewalk underneath it about 6 inches down. As I was digging this year, I found the concrete sidewalk sticking into the garden about a foot. I must have planted that tomato in the 6-8 inches of dirt and it’s poor roots ran into that concrete. It looks like the concrete had been patched with black-top patch several times so a sledge hammer and crow bar did an adequate job breaking it into pieces which I dug out. This delayed the early spring peas, Lettuce and Onions I had planned on putting in in late April.
Peas, Lettuce, and Onions
I planted Peas on 4/26/15 along with Lettuce and onions. I had started some cauliflower from seed but I haven’t had any luck with germination. I went ahead and built a little pea trellis with some twine and pipe-hanger tape. I just used a piece of scrap wood to make the center post and stapled the twine to it.
This is what the pipe hanger tape looks like. You can find it in the plumbing supply area of the hardware store:
While we had a nice day, we went ahead and dug out this area of the side-yard. I had a brick pile here for a while and moved it last year. I’ve had the rocks ready to dig this area up, put down landscape fabric, and fill it with rocks since last spring and this April was a perfect time to finish off this little project. I’d like to also get a couple stepping stones to make it a little easier to walk on. I bricked the end of the rock patch to keep it nice and contained.