In this monthly gardening guide for April, we are playing a lot catch up. Not to be confused with ketchup, because playing with ketchup would be a mess.
Oh, my friends, will you please accept my sincerest apology for the tardiness of this April Monthly Gardening Guide? My intention was to balance between real-time photos with past photos along with the month’s info. So, I was aiming to have these out around the middle of the month to achieve said balance. For April, I wanted to show you transplants like this spinach from last year:
And baby garlic coming up:
Unfortunately, most of our April looked like this up until very recently:
Which is whyyy I have a lot of pictures from previous years today. Although I hope these guides are useful for gardening seasons to come, I do apologize and will aim for close to mid-month moving forward. So, here we go, weeeee.
Monthly Gardening: April
Things totally start to get a little whack-a-doodle around our house come April. There are baby seedlings and grow lights everywhere (ahem, just non-fancy shop lights). I’m fairly certain our neighbors are wondering just what the hell is going on here anyway. Speaking of neighbors, if you’re my neighbor and lost your goat, he’s currently camping out in our yard.
What can I say? Country life. Aside from the seedlings, there are also bee hive components everywhere being sealed. If you were here a few days ago, you saw the announcement that we are raising bees! They were supposed to be here this weekend, but due to the never-ending winter, they are now arriving May 5. Now that it’s warmer, hoping to move the beehive work to the pole shed and the seedlings outside.
April is when we sow heat-loving plants indoors, so they’ll have a head start on the season come the last week of May/first week of June. I quite literally love growing peppers and tomatoes. I give a lot of extra special care, time, and attention to these guys. I’m constantly trying new varieties, because the difference in color, taste, and texture is astonishing. However, trying new varieties also means putting some varieties from season’s past on hold. This is always a tough decision for me.
Although the point of these guides isn’t an in-depth review of varieties, I figured I’d provide the varieties that made the 2018 Eggplant/Pepper/Tomato roster in case you’re reading and looking for new ones to try. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Also, please let me know if there is something missing from this list I just have to try 🙂
- Rosa Bianca
- Aji Cristal (all-time favorite)
- Bird’s Eye Baby
- Cabai Burung Ungu
- Canary Bell
- Cayenne Long Thin
- Chocolate Beauty Bell
- El Oro De Ecuador
- Fish Pepper
- Gambo Bell
- Hungarian Hot Wax
- Jalapeno Craig’s Grande
- Jimmy Nardello’s (all-time favorite)
- Lemon Drop
- Leutschauer Paprika
- Naga Morich
- Orange Bell
- Peach Habanero
- Pink Habanero
- Quadrato Asti Giallo Bell
- Scotch Bonnet
- Shishito (all-time favorite)
- Sugar Rush Peach
- Tesuque Chile
- Thai hot
- African Queen
- Aunt Ruby’s German Green
- Black Beauty (stunning almost all-black tomato)
- Black Cherry (all-time favorite)
- Brad’s Atomic Grape
- Brandywine, Yellow
- Brandywine, Sudduth’s Strain
- Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato
- Garden Peach
- Gold Medal (all-time favorite for beauty and flavor)
- Goldman’s Italian (all-time favorite)
- Great White
- Green Doctor
- Napa Chardonnay
- Opalka (all-time favorite for canning)
- Orange Banana
- Pink Berkley Tie-Dye (all-time favorite for appearance and flavor)
- Santa Clara Canner
- Striped Roman
- Sungold (all-time favorite)
- Super Sweet 100
- Toma Verde
Melons, Cucumbers, Winter Squash
Although I used to start these indoors, you have to take extra care to not disturb the roots. Because we aren’t gardening to be first to market, I now direct sow these in May when the weather warms.
Flowers, much like herbs, are grown for edible and culinary purposes in my garden, though branching out into medicinal and decorative purposes is on my not-so-distant bucket list. Although I plant them every year, it usually just happens when I have some free time, and I almost always just direct sow and cross my fingers. Those flowers I may start indoors, because they either need a little extra time or fare better transplanting, include Anise Hyssop, Chamomile, Iron Apricot, Sweet Alyssum, and Tower Chamois China Aster (which is NOT edible; just beautiful).
April calls for potting up artichoke, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale. It’s also time to start hardening off seedlings by allowing them some time outdoors.
Typically, April is all about cleaning up the garden and prepping beds with compost and organic fertilizer where necessary. However, as mentioned, up until a few days ago, the garden was still under a blanket of snow. That’s the thing about gardening. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature. It’s one of the reasons I’ve learned to love it. It’s taught me patience and humility, provided a better understanding of the seasonality and variability of our environment, and awakened a connection to nature that I never knew was within me (and spoiler alert, it’s within all of us). You just have to learn to go with the flow, just like life.
As soon as the ground can be worked, I sow peas, radishes, carrots, beets, and greens and possibly flowers like borage and bachelor’s button. The last week of April, I’ll sow rutabaga and plant potato seed.
Once seedlings have hardened off, I’ll transplant spinach, artichokes, beets, kale, swiss chard, other greens/lettuces, broccoli and cauliflower. Either at the end of April or first week of May, I’ll transplant all of the onion seedlings.
Starting in April, we’ll see rhubarb, berries, asparagus, and perennial flowers like daffodils and tulips come up.
Ya’all, I’m captivated with foraged food. There’s something so special about finding and (sustainably) harvesting something grown in the wild. I’m far from an expert, but I’m constantly learning. I’ve read and re-read Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong cover to cover and I’m constantly pouring over Alen Bergo’s blog Forager Chef. I highly suggest both to anyone interested in foraging. Ramps are ready for harvest in April. Although the earliest we’ve found morel mushrooms was the first week of May, I’m optimistic we will find some in April one year 🙂
Alright, that’s it! Happy gardening.