Ah, New England… Although the Calendar says it is April 8th. it feels like January. I just took a walk and the cold damp rain and winds make me think spring will never get here. I do see the crocuses, snowdrops, and the daffodils fight to sprout and before you know it they will be blooming, especially those facing the south sun.
Try to plan for when the weather does begin to warm up. The weather man says it is supposed to reach the 50′s come the weekend.
- In the garden be sure to rake and clean the debris away and work and turn the soil over. Rake and remove all the leaves from flower beds. Top dress with compost or well-rotted manure.
- Use your ashes from the fireplace and broadcast them over alkaline-loving perennials like delphiniums and dianthus.
- If you haven’t done so in a while or you are starting a new garden, now is the time to consider having your soil tested to see if it is nutrient rich. This can be done through your local sate’s cooperative extension like at the University of Massachusetts. This service is often free or at a low cost.
- When the soil has warmed and can be worked – not too wet – plant cold-tolerant crops such as peas, spinach, lettuce, radishes, and onions. Other vegetables like beets, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, kale, radishes, and parsnips can also be started outdoors this month. Check Almanac.com/Gardening for a plant chart to see what the best dates are for starting seeds outdoors and transplanting those started indoors.
- I have already started my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant indoors.
- Beds can be cleaned and lilies, primroses, and lily of the valley can be planted.
- Raspberries, blackberries, and other fruit trees can go in this month, but wait a bit for the strawberries. Asparagus can be planted now. If you already have strawberry beds be sure not to take the straw or mulch away too soon. They can still be damaged by a hard frost.
- Check existing fruit trees and remove damaged branches and prune to shape.
- Other trees should be fertilized and pruned at this time also. Watch for signs of scale or aphids and spray the branches with a dormant oil when the termperatures are above 40 degrees.
- Cut back ornamental grasses to about 12 inches.
- If you want an early crop, start broccoli now, as soon as possible.
- Divide and replant hosta and other perennials just when they start to emerge. This makes it easier than when they have grown too tall. Great way to divide and share your plants.
- Roses can be dug and replanted now before they start to bud out. New rose varieties can be planted. Order them soon if you have’nt already done so.
- Fertilize the roses and berry bushes, and woody plants.
- Make sure when completing all pruning that you treat your pruners with a good solution of weak bleach so as not to spread any diseases from one plant to another.
- Watch for soil moisture. Even though we had a lot of snow this winter, the exposed plants can still be damaged by dry weather conditions, especially from wind.
Have fun….. Happy Planting ….