April is National Gardening Month


By Douglas Benson - Master Gardener



The arrival of the coronavirus known as COVID-19 is changing our lives like nothing else we have ever faced. Children are at home instead of in school, many adults are also at home instead of at their normal workplace, and we are all being told to stay at home and limit our movements.

One way to meet this challenge is to do something productive. April is “National Gardening Month.” Why not use some of this time at home to get some fresh air and exercise while cleaning up the yard and starting a vegetable and/or flower garden. Don’t want to go outdoors? Indoor gardening activities are also possible. Here are some specific suggestions for the month of April.

Lawn care

• Remove leaves, twigs, and other debris.

• Mow as needed—the first cut should be slightly lower than normal.

• Reseed bare spots with high quality seed.

• If crabgrass has been a recurring problem, apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control. If you plan to reseed bare spots, siduron is the only crabgrass preventer that can be used.

• Make an application of fertilizer at a rate of one pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet—using a crabgrass control-fertilizer blend can save time and energy.

• Not doing crabgrass control? Hold off on fertilizer until mid- to late-May.

• If moles are a problem, trap them now before they reproduce.

Woody plants and fruit trees

• Remove storm-damaged limbs.

• Remove and destroy over-wintering bagworms before they can hatch.

• Apply a dormant oil spray on fruit trees and landscape plants as directed.

• Start a home orchard spray schedule, following the directions on the container. To protect the bees, do not use insecticides while the fruit trees are in bloom.

• Uncover roses as soon as new growth appears, but be ready to protect them from late frosts. Prune and begin to fertilize.

• Plant bare-root stock as soon as possible and before new growth begins.

• Prune spring flowering shrubs like forsythia after the blooms have dropped.

Flowers, vegetables, small fruits

• If a handful of soil crumbles when you squeeze it, prepare your garden soil. If it forms a solid ball, let it dry more.

• Plant cool-season vegetables (cabbage family, lettuce, spinach, peas) as soon as the soil is ready. Plant potatoes now also.

• Start seeds of warm-season vegetables and flowers indoors.

• Plant/transplant asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, and brambles.

• Remove winter mulch from strawberries when new growth begins, but be ready to protect the plants from late frosts.

• Prune out weak, diseased, or dead parts of brambles and grape vines.

• Hostas can be divided as they begin to grow. Fertilizer established hostas in early April.

Indoors

• Begin applying fertilizer to indoor plants following label directions.

• Prune and repot houseplants as needed.

• Remove spent flowers and leaves to improve appearance and promote more blooms.

• Begin a window-sill herb garden.

• Maintain Easter lilies by keeping them in a bright, cool location but out of direct sunlight. They can be transplanted outdoors after the soil warms.

A note of caution: When using garden chemicals, read and follow the label instructions carefully. Remember, the ending –cide means “to kill,” so use the right amount of the right chemical for the right purpose.

The OSU Extension office is closed until further notice, and the Shelby County Master Gardeners April 21 gardening seminar at the Amos Memorial Library has been canceled. However, Shelby County Master Gardener Volunteers can still help answer your gardening questions. Email your questions to shelby.mastergardeners@gmail.com.

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By Douglas Benson

Master Gardener

The writer is a master gardener volunteer with the OSU Extension Office.

The writer is a master gardener volunteer with the OSU Extension Office.