In the Organic Garden: Week of April 17, 2017

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April 17 to 23, 2017 As the tulips make their last big push, we’re sowing spring crops, composting gardens, and starting to plant shrubs and perennials.

Kitchen Gardens

In fruit and vegetable gardens, we’re

  • planting out hardened-off leeks, onions, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower. It’s safe to put these cool-weather transplants out now.
  • succession sowing spring crops. Every couple of weeks, we plant another little sowing of carrots, lettuce, radish, beets, and spinach. Small, repeat sowings extend the harvest and prevent your getting a big glut of one vegetable at once.
  • keeping the seed bed moist. Use a watering can with a rose to regularly water your newly sown seeds. New transplants should be watered at the soil line without the rose.
  • thinning seedlings. For direct sown crops, thin out your seedlings to the spacing shown on the back of the seed packet. If you’re worried that you might pull up more plants than you mean to, use a small pair of scissors to snip extra plants off at the soil line.
  • starting tomatoes inside. We planted peppers and eggplants earlier, but tomatoes grow quickly. Plant your tomato seeds under lights now so that they’ll be ready to go into the garden after May 15.
  • continuing to feed and water indoor seedlings.
  • planting potatoes. Use seed potatoes (small, whole potatoes) or chunks of potatoes with a couple of eyes each. Chitting makes them grow to harvest size faster.
  • cutting back and tidying up perennial herbs like germander, oregano, sage, and thyme.
tulip spring garden

The tulips are putting on the last push of their big show.

Ornamental Gardens

In other parts of the garden, we’re

  • spreading compost in beds and side-dressing trees and shrubs. As you notice the buds swelling on your trees and shrubs, side dress with compost to act as a gentle fertilizer. Put compost around the base of the plant (but not right up against the stem) and gently scratch it in with a hoe or rake.
  • deadheading daffodils. Bulb foliage should be left alone until it turns brown and flops over. But you can tidy up spent daffodils by removing the flower stem; cut it with pruners or snap it off at the base.
  • planting new shrubs and perennials. Mid-April through early June is one of the best planting times of the year.
  • mowing the lawn. Set your mower at 3.0″ to 3.5″ to encourage strong grass growth. If you cut too short, you’ll encourage weeds at the expense of the grass.
  • turning the compost heap.

Amy graduated from DePauw University with a degree in physics, a lifelong love of theatre, and a problem-solving style that combines the approaches from both those fields. A Master Gardener and long-time communications professional, Amy conducts gardening seminars and blogs about gardening in addition to her work with Spotts.

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