Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, March 12, 2018

April Planting Tips - Springing Forward - Cool to Warm Then Hot!

Roselle In September - Planted in April
Dear Folks,

As we move from March to April it is not so much in like a lion out like a lamb as much as it is moving from a balmy 75-80 to 95+ temperatures and the plants that make the transition or "retire" for the season.

As I always say, the great thing about gardening in the desert is the ability to grow edibles year round.  There are those that like their feet cool in the fall through winter and those that like their feet warm early spring through fall.  And those perennials like fruit trees and perennial herbs which grow year round.  Many of those perennials are getting ready to, or are already blooming.

The annuals which have cool or warm preferences are the ones that can sometimes struggle along in the temperature transition times.

The last of the sugar peas are putting out flowers and pods and will soon brown and die back - and hopefully you are grabbing those dried pods to have peas to sow again starting in late summer.

The tomatoes you started or planted may be having repeat sessions of grow/stop/grow which is triggered when the soil is warm to their liking then we hit a cool "bump" and they stop growing, then restart when the soil warms again.  They will be fine.

We should be well past the possibility of frost, however we can get a cool day here or there and the possibility of hail if the conditions are just right.

***My Calendar gives you all my monthly planting information at your fingers tips.  Purchase at Amazon or through My Publisher.***  Links are also on the side bar here on the blog.

Artichoke, Jerusalem; Bean, Snap; Beans, Soy; Cantaloupe; Caper plants; Carrots; Cucumbers; Garlic, Green; Jicama; Melons, Musk; Okra; Onion, Green; Peanuts; Peas, Sugar; Peas, Black Eyed; Peppers; Radishes

Impatients Wallarana; Marigolds, including Tangerine Scented (Tagetes Lemonii), Citrus Scented (Tagetes Nelsonii); Portulaca; Purslane; Scented Geraniums; Sunflower; Sweet Alyssum, Roselle/Jamaica Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa), Zinnia

FLOWER "MULCHING":  Soil (not the whole garden) canopy (shade) is necessary to protect young plants in the heat.  Purchase 6 packs of flowers, surround transplanted herb or veggie with 3-5 flower plants - "think" 12 inch diameter circle.  Why? This cools the soil surface and shades the sides of the primary transplant, without encouraging pests near tender stems, while still giving the plants all the sun they need.

Prune spring-flowering shrub fruit trees before flowering starts (April - May for shrubs like Pineapple Guava)

If you planted your potatoes January 1st you can start checking the end of this month for usable size — just insert your fingers gently into soil.  Potato plants will begin to die back with yellowing leaves and stems.  You can "store" the potatoes in the ground until you need them but you should harvest all by early June or they will start to sprout and grow again.

Example of Sunflower House from Internet

Get the children involved in gardening by helping them grow a Sunflower House.

Described in Linda Lovejoy's fabulous book "Sunflower Houses," this ‘hideaway' will delight your budding gardener.

Sunflower Houses are created using the growing sunflowers for the poles of the house.  Prepare the planting area and decide how wide and long you want the house to be — ex. 4 x 6 — and draw the dimensions in the soil, leaving an opening for the ‘door.'  Mammoth sunflowers (those that grow over 6 feet) are best for this.  Plant the sunflower seeds 2 or 3 to a hole, about 1 foot apart all along the ‘walls' of the house.  In between the sunflower seeds, sow edible vines like beans or cucumbers.  Given the water requirements, creating a trench for the walls will allow flood watering for the growing plants.
       These houses can be as elaborate as you and your children wish. Plant flower or strawberry beds along the outside walls;  herb and flower ground covers inside for a ‘carpet' are limited only to the imagination. The vines grow up the sunflowers and if they are enthusiastic enough, will even grow over the top of a narrow room creating a ceiling.
--do teach the children about bees, leaving them alone and avoiding them when they are "working" the flowers.

I hope you have a wonderful time in the garden as we spring forward into the warmer weather!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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