April & May Tips
These are the months that gardeners dream about all winter. The early days of April should be spent getting your garden ready for planting. Add the proper soil amendments - after you get your soil test results back, of course. Slowly begin to rake off the mulch and leaves that are covering your perennials - not to quickly. Depending on the night time temps, you may have to cover them up a time or two. Turn over your compost pile. Sharpen the lawn mower The days are getting longer. With any amount of luck, the days will also get warmer and the soil will be warmed by that sun.
Lots of seeds can be started indoors, and some seeds can be directly planted into the garden. If in doubt, check with a Veggie Girl to decide what can be started now. Once the soil warms up a bit, and isn’t a complete soggy mess, you can plant spinach, carrots, radish and pea seeds right out in the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are heat lovers. We recommend you wait until Memorial Day to put those outside, but we know that most folks try to push the season. If you can’t wait until the end of May for those veggies, please have a “Plan B” in place. Keep a couple of old sheets handy to protect your plants from a sudden frost. Even a layer of newspapers can protect against a slight frost.
Our general rule of thumb regarding “Is it Safe To Plant” here at Smith’s Acres is - If the plants are inside our greenhouse, they are not ready to plant unprotected in your garden. They may be too tender to put outside yet, or they may need to be hardened off.
What is "hardening off"?? Good question! Lots of times, the wind and cold damage plants when they are first put outside, even the ones that are "Cold tolerant" down to 30 degrees. The leaves are soft and tender. They need to slowly get acclimated to the outside world. Take your hanging basket or 6-pack of tomatoes, and put them outside in a protected spot during sunny days, and bring them back inside for the chilly nights. We recommend placing your plants close to the house or garage for the first few days, where the wind is not as harsh. Wind can cause just as much damage to tender plants as a frost can. After a few days of hardening off, they should e ready to plant in the garden. We do that all the time - place plants on rolling carts and roll them in and out for a few days until we decide they are tough enough to take the cold, cruel world.
Generally, by Memorial Day we deem it safe to plant ANYTHING!!!