April Gardening Checklist: Edible Plants
With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information. Edible plants are the focus of this NoteStream. Also see our NoteStreams on Flowering Plants, Fruit Trees and more.
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The information, dates and techniques in this blog are as accurate as I can currently offer.
During the past three decades I have cared for, nurtured and observed tens of thousands of plants. With the help of many gardening friends I have attempted to offer on these pages some useful information to help you with your own garden. Gardening is sharing. Any corrections, comments or suggestions are appreciated and will improve future information.
• Grapes should be growing vigorously now. Direct the canes as desired.
• The first application of fertilizer should be made when the new growth has grown a couple of inches (probably last month). Assuming the use of a granular organic product, the second application should be six to eight weeks later, the third application another six to eight weeks later and the final application in another six to eight weeks.. Remember, use a well-balanced product that contains trace minerals, which grapes need. Organic products usually are a good choice.
• Now that the weather is worm and the days are growing longer is the best time to plant basil.
• Many perennial herbs can be planted nearly year-round, but are particularly well suited to spring planting, since they thrive during the warm summer months. These include marjoram, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, catmint, catnip, chamomile, comfrey, feverfew, lavender, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemon verbena, St. johns wort, tansy, tarragon and thyme.
• Especially in warm inland gardens, this is the last chance to plant a quick crop of fast growing, cool-season herbs like anise, arugula, borage, chervil, cilantro, dill and fennel.
• Annual “summer savory” can now be planted in the warmer weather. The perennial “winter savory” can also be planted now, however the flavor of the perennial version is generally considered inferior.
• This is still a good time to rejuvenate certain old or tired herbs by giving them a hard trim. These include chamomile, chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, lemon grass, marjoram, mint, oregano, salad burnet, sorrel, St. johns wort, thyme and watercress. All of these can be scalped almost to the soil line and, with fertilizing, will recover quickly. Other herbs like catmint, catnip, feverfew, lemon verbena, rosemary, rue, sage and tansy should be cut a bit higher. Cut lavender only very lightly.
• Feed them regularly. Periodically alternate with an organic acid fertilizer, like cottonseed meal, to keep the soil pH low, which strawberries prefer.
• Bait, trap or hand pick snails and slugs regularly to avoid fruit damage.
• Strawberry fruit is less likely to be bothered by sowbugs, earwigs or rotting if separated not in contact with the soil. Straw works well for this as does pine needles or even rings cut out of unprinted corrugated cardboard. All of these can be turned into the soil at the end of the season.
(See also the information under Avocados, and Citrus in this NoteStream)
• Annual pruning, if needed, can often be done now, but consult a reference or expert first. Some varieties only bloom and set fruit on old wood and pruning now would be incorrect for these.
• Most of these are still just waking from the cool months. Some varieties will be showing signs of new growth on the tips or along the branches.
• Depending upon your location and the species involved, you may be able to begin planting.
• Most varieties can be fertilized now, but wait another month on any that look completely asleep.
• Watering can usually be more frequent now, as the plants wake and begin growing again.
• There is still time to plant artichokes from gallon containers and get fruit this year. If your artichoke is re-growing from last year or was planted earlier this year remove any suckers on the plant. A single crown will produce larger fruit. The suckers can be given away to friends or re-planted elsewhere in the garden.
• Early this month may be the absolute best time to plant tomatoes from transplants. A crop planted now will produce for several months. Choose varieties carefully; hundreds are available.
• Mound spring potatoes that you planted last month.
• Putting in successive plantings of many vegetables a couple of weeks apart from each other will insure a constant, uninterrupted supply for the kitchen.
• Early potatoes from those planted last fall may be ready for harvest.
• In a well established asparagus patch, this is still a good time to harvest asparagus spears. Remember, don’t take any spears during the first two years after planting.
• Almost any warm-season vegetable can be planted this month. From transplants or seeds, plant beans, celery, cucumbers, eggplants, okra, peppers, salsify, squash, sunflower and tomatoes. Corn, lima beans, jicama, melons and pumpkin are best planted from seed.
• Along the immediate coast most cool-season crops like arugula, lettuce, peas and members of the cabbage family can still be grown. Alternatively, the real heat-loving vegetables like corn, melons, peppers and pumpkins will be challenging. Grow them in front of a hot south facing wall.
• Plant corn from seed this month. Because corn needs to be cross-pollinated it must always be grown in clumps or rows. Twelve plants is about the minimum for good pollination and twenty or more is even better. Plants crops successively every three to four weeks for a continual harvest.
• Beets, carrots, chard, radish and possibly turnips can be planted just about year-round. All but chard are planted from seed only.
• Since most annual vegetables are shallow rooted and quick growing, feed them regularly with a well balanced organic fertilizer
• Control weeds before they get out of hand.