And it’s April … just like that. On the coast there’s always a chance for nasty weather, but April is usually a good time to really get into the garden and start growing.
The plant nurseries are teeming with lots of great starts this time of year. If you didn’t get a start on your garden already, be sure to grab a few seedlings of lettuce, spinach, or kale. These can be planted out now and you will see a lot of growth happening quickly. Be sure to grab some seeds of these plants as well—they’ll grow successively throughout the spring and early summer. Get started now and you’ll be eating greens throughout the year.
April is all about transplanting the seedlings you started indoors. It’s important to harden off your plants. Start by putting the seedlings out in the morning in a semi-shaded spot and bring them back inside in late afternoon. Do this for about a week, adding in a little more sunshine each day. Once a week is up, the plants should be ready for the garden.
No matter the time of year (except for July/August), it’s a good idea to have a simple cover on your plants, especially the young ones. Our driving rains can decimate a seedling in no time. Every plant will be so much happier protectively growing in a low tunnel, cloche, cold frame, or greenhouse. (You can make simple cloches from plastic milk or juice jugs. Just cut off the bottom, remove the cap, and place them over your plants like a mini greenhouse.)
If you have some fall-planted greens, get ready to see them explode! With all the sunshine and warmth and the longer days, the plants are primed to grow. (You can almost see them growing by the minute!)
Perennials like rhubarb and asparagus will be growing now, too. Give them a boost of compost if you haven’t already. Berry bushes and strawberries could use a little boost now, too. You can also add mulch, which will mean less watering in the hot, sunny months.
If you are anything like me, you find the spring—and in particular the month of April—to be a bit stressful if I haven’t been keeping on top of things over the early spring days. Prioritize your garden work to relieve some of the stress. Simply pick the best garden bed—one that gets that late spring early summer sunshine—fill it with seedlings, mulch, cover, and then move on to the next bed.
You can direct sow lettuce and other greens, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Again, it’s always good to have some sort of cover on them. If it’s a sunny warm day, simply remove the cover for the plants to get some direct sun.
Start cucumbers, zucchini, and melons (if you are up for a challenge!) and basil inside now to get a head start on these warm season plants.
Another thing to think about is pests! They are coming out to play now and will be happy to see all your lovely plants. Protect crops from the insects like cabbage moths, carrot rust fly, and leaf miners by adding a floating row cover over the garden bed.
Slugs and cutworms are also out now eating as much as they can and reproducing. Go out at night with a headlamp to find these guys. If you, or a neighbour, happens to have ducks, they’ll appreciate the slug snacks!
Lastly, weed, weed, weed. The more you do now, the less you will do later!