April is the best season to start working on your organic garden. Make sure to plan ahead and don’t rush if your plant beds get too wet during a heavy rain. Here are some things to remember this month.
Try to start early as possible. You will need time to let your bed rest if you have crops from past seasons. Turn under cover crops, and let your bed settle for at least a week.
If you already have a compost heap, get into the bottom of your pile and pull out the most degraded parts to mix with your soil. Mix the compost with soil and pass the mixture through a screen. Use this mixture to cover new seeds and seedlings as it will help improve the soil’s texture, drainage, and water retention. Don't worry if you don't have compost, see fertilizer below.
Fertilize your lawn, seedlings and transplants. Fogroff Natural Organic Fish Fertilizer is a great option for fertilizing your plants this month. Fertilizer will help foster healthy soil and plants that will be blooming abundantly.
Conditioning soil helps to deter most pests and can prevent infestations of aphids, powdery mildew, blackspot and snails. Snails should be killed as they are found as they can be most dangerous to your new plants. Never use chemical sprays or dusts, only organic methods.QUICK TIP: Mixing wood ash and Fogroff into your lawn compost will help ensure strong and healthy growth.
Top dress your lawn with about an inch of compost. (This should ideally be done in March.) Overseed patchy areas of lawn.
Take your houseplants out of their current pots and examine their roots. If their roots are closely bound, re-pot with fresh potting soil in a larger pot.
Harden off your seedlings to prepare for transplant.
Quick guide to Hardening off Transplants:1. Expose your plants to outdoor conditions gradually, so that seedlings become accustomed to strong sunlight, cool nights and less-frequent watering over a 7-10 day period.2. On a mild day, start with 2-3 hours of sun in a sheltered location.3. Protect seedlings from strong sun, wind, hard rain and cool temperatures.4. Use an automatically opening cold frame, if you have one.5. Increase exposure to sunlight a few additional hours at a time and gradually reduce frequency of watering, but do not allow seedlings to wilt. Avoid fertilizing.6. Keep an eye on the weather and listen to the low temperature prediction. If temperatures below the crop's minimum are forecast, bring the plants indoors or close the cold frame and cover it with a blanket or other insulation.7. Know the relative hardiness of various crops. Onions and brassicas can take temperatures in the 40's. After they are well hardened off, light frosts won't hurt them. Warm-season crops such as eggplants, melons and cukes prefer warm nights, at least 60° F. They can't stand below-freezing temperatures, even after hardening off.8. Gradually increase exposure to cold.9. Root-prune plants in flats a week before setting out. Use a sharp knife and cut down to the bottom of the flat between the plants. Water thoroughly.10. After transplanting to the garden, use a weak fertilizer solution to get transplants growing again and to help avoid transplant shock.
Use plant markers to mark each plant and remember to only transplant seedlings once it has warmed up enough. Keep your delicate plants in locations away from areas that will be susceptible to heavy winds and pests.
Directly sow your early spring vegetables.
Here’s a list of suggested plants:
lettuces, spinach, and other spring greens
nasturtiums, snapdragons, asters, alyssum, calendula, centaurea, pansies, violas, scabiosa, mignonette, dianthus, poppy, cosmos, gypsophila, annual phlox, verbena, and ageratum.
Marigolds can be planted towards the end of April
Replace the perennials that didn’t survive the winter and transplant plants that can have a better location this season.
Make sure to keep your plants spaced out and allow each of your plants to breath.
Now is the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. By summer, the plants will have had plenty of time to get comfortable and well established.
Start pruning early-spring-flowering trees and shrubs after they’ve finished blooming. Evergreen hedges also can be sheared, and roses can be pruned just as the buds start to poke out.