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April Gardening “To-do” List

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April Gardening “To-do” List

By, Kevin Cutlip

Hopefully by April, most of us are experiencing at least some spring weather. Where we live, there’s always a chance of a hail storm or even frosty mornings, but for the most part, spring is here! Flowers are blooming and the vegetable garden needs planting. April 15th is the last average frost date for our area. In the Richmond area, we are Zone 7a, but a few microclimates are scattered about. To find your’s click this link and add your Zip Code. (http://www.garden.org/zipzone/)

The next three months are probably the busiest for gardeners. We’re trying to catch all the weeds before they take over, get things mulched, and plant new shrubs, plants and edibles. Hopefully this list will help you take a more sedated pace for the chores needed in April!

Vegetable & Fruit Gardens:

  • Prep main garden beds for spring & summer planting, by weeding and turning in organic material
  • Harden off your warm season seedlings
  • Plant by seed in the garden: Cucumbers, Squash, Beans, Melons, Radishes, Carrots, etc. – basically everything except Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Onions
  • Use floating row covers to help protect Beets, Cabbage and Carrots from insects, like leaf miners and cabbage maggots
  • Apply organic fertilizer to cane, bush (blueberries, currants, gooseberries) & trailing berries
  • Mulch perennial vegetables and fruits, like Asparagus, Rhubarb & Strawberries with compost or composted manure

Red and White flowers

Flower Beds:

  • Prune & shape spring-blooming shrubs and trees after blossoms fade
  • Plant summer blooming tubers like Dahlias and Gladiolus (if you didn’t get to it in March)
  • Deadhead flowers as they finish blooming
  • Divide perennials that need it. If your daylilies aren’t blooming as much anymore, they need to be divided.
  • Start keeping up with your weeds if you didnt apply preventer. if you re-mulch, the preventer goes ON TOP of the new mulch
  • Apply organic fertilizer to established shrubs, as needed
  • Plant shrubs and evergreens

Lawns:

  • Didn’t get the lawn fertilizer out on time? Wait until September. Nitrogen applied this late is an invitation for brown patch fungus disease in June as well as feeding other things you don’t want. Unless you have warm season grass like Zoysia or Bermuda, you still have about a month before you feed.
  • Grass grows so fast with all this rain, the lawn can get out of hand quickly. Maintain mowing height for fescue lawns at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. Check your blades from time to time; sharper blades means healthier lawns. Be sure to change directions each week you cut to lessen the compaction.
  • It is too late to expect good results from applying crabgrass preventer now. Much of the seed has already begun to germinate and gone past the 3 leaf stage, which preventers can’t stop.

Watering can

Other:

  • April is a great time to plant shrubs and perennials. Keep them watered this summer
  • Do not plant frost-tender annuals before May unless you will be able to care for them in case of frost
  • As soon as spring blooming shrubs have finished blooming, it’s time to prune if they have gotten too large
  • Many perennials can be divided now—Hostas, Japanese Anemone, Black-Eyed-Susan, Yarrow, Chrysanthemums, etc.
  • It is time to re-pot houseplants if needed: new soil, prune out any dead leaves, feed
  • Clean out the water garden: No one likes this, but a well spent day cleaning now, will provide a longer season of enjoyment. Change out your Barley Straw if you use it and divide your aquatic plants.
  • Checking your tools, hoses, garden journal, etc is also a good Saturday chore. Keeping them working properly is a must, to be able to enjoy your gardening time. Going through your notes can also help you to keep from making same past mistakes.

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