It’s almost the end of April, and it’s finally starting to feel like spring around here. I think this is the latest I’ve ever started to feel the itch to start playing in the dirt. Better late than never, I suppose.
If you are like me, time is always limited, and you’re probably wondering what might be the most effective use of your time. We all want to start planting flowers, but here in the midwest, there are still chances of frost all the way up until May 10th, the official frost free date for Zone 4 gardeners.
I am going to make a list of things that I know I need to do before I start planting the more tender crops. This list is in no particular order.
April To Do List
- Cut back ornamental grasses to at least 6 ” above the ground: this can be quickly done with an electric hedge shears to save your hands from carpal tunnel and save tons of time.
- For an organic way to fertilize your lawn and flower beds, get a truckload of compost from the compost facility and sprinkle it evenly, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick all throughout the lawn and flower beds, and rake in to evenly spread it out.
- If you have an asparagus patch, now would be a good time to spray roundup or an organic herbicide to kill weeds before the spears come up. You can also top dress with some compost and loosen up the soil between the rows with a tiller as soon as the soil dries out enough to be worked.
- Cut back dead stems from perennials
- Remove debris, (dead leaves, etc.) from flower beds
- If you are doing a veggie garden, put up a rabbit fence after soil is worked and before you invest your time and money into planting it! Don’t learn the hard way like I did…..I always say I’m going to put up a fence, but I get so excited about planting, that I do it first and then never get around to putting up a fence until after the rabbits have already mowed off all my seedlings.
- Till up the veggie garden down at least 6 inches.
- Add compost to your veggie garden and till in again. We have raised beds for our veggie garden and over the last 2 years or so, the soil level has gone down at least 3 or 4 inches. This year, my husband topped them off with more garden soil and then tilled it in to mix with the existing soil to improve drainage. Hopefully, this will improve the moisture retention in the soil as well.
- If you are going to be growing broccoli, cauliflower, or any type of salad greens, order some white insect fabric to cover your crops! I am finally going to try it this year because I do not like using chemicals, and I am tired of being afraid of finding those little green worms in my salad greens and broccoli. The white fabric is supposed to keep moths from laying eggs(that turn into little green worms) on the plants, and also help keep flea beetles from chewing holes in leaves.
- Plant cool season plants, tubers, and seeds.