The Maritime Northwest Edition
Our weather is generally transitional at this time. Enjoy the beautiful sun breaks, but keep on alert for the downpours. Stop, appreciate, and enjoy the beautiful flowering that is happening all around.
In the Vegetable Garden
- As soon as the weather settles and you can work the soil, begin to set out your broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and early cabbage plants.
- If you haven't done so already, sow broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, peas, radishes, salsify, spinach, and turnips, 20 to 40 days prior to your last expected frost date.
- Between 10 to 30 days prior to your last expected frost date, sow beets, carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, and Swiss chard seeds.
- Experimentation and documentation are the keys to successful gardens. Try new things, but write it down and make notes throughout the season. Your garden journals make great reading on those long winter days. They help you plan your planting and harvest strategies, your layout, and help you pick your seeds.
- If you are growing asparagus, now is the time to transplant roots. Do so in furrows so that the crowns are four to six inches below the surface, spacing 12 to 18 inches apart. Sandy loam soil works best.
- Leave cold frames open during the warmth of the days to help harden plants off.
- Don't plant out all of your seedlings. Keep extras to serve as replacements for those lost after transplanting.
- If you have not done so already, you should complete your rose pruning as soon as possible. Replace roses that have died over winter as soon as you can work the ground.
- Be careful not to damage emerging bulbs while weeding your gardens and flowerbeds.
- Scatter your annual poppy seeds.
- Nick your Morning Glory seeds prior to planting. This will help germination. They prefer poor soil and will produce a lot of foliage and few flowers if planted in overly fertile ground.
- Experiment with planting fast growing vines, like runner beans, this early. In some areas, the conditions may be a bit cold but if you get an early start, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful blooms much longer. Consider locations so they hide ugly areas like bare fences or sheds.
- Divide delphiniums as soon as the plants emerge in the Spring.
- Easter lilies that have finished blooming in the house can be planted in your beds.
- Use well-rotted manure to feed new perennial flower beds.
- Before growth starts, trim your evergreen boxwood, arborvitae, yew and laurel hedges. Concentrate on trimming last year's growth.
- Finish planting bare root trees.
- Cultivate lime into the soil around clematis and lilacs.
- Leave the rotting foliage of last year's growth on your fern and wildflower beds.
- Clean up last year’s foliage from around delphiniums.
- Re-seed bare spots, or over-seed thin spots in the lawn.
- Clean up vining plants. Make sure that they are not growing under your siding or wrapping around electrical wires or downspouts.
NOTE: If you live in a warmer or colder climate, adjust your schedule accordingly. The tasks that we do here in the Pacific Northwest in April may be more appropriate to perform in February or March in parts of the South, or late April into May in the far North.
Mike Dunton is a farmer, lifelong gardener, and seed saver interested in “old-timey” ways, historical agriculture and biodiversity preservation. From his ancestral farm in Liberal, Oregon, he focused all of these interests and founded the mission-driven Victory Seed Company in 1998 which works to locate, grow, document and preserve rare, threatened, heirloom seed varieties keeping them available to gardeners. You can find them online at www.VictorySeeds.com or email him at [email protected]. Your support is greatly needed and appreciated. [This article was originally published in the Green Living Journal.]