April Gardening Tips

We are lucky to have an excellent growing climate here in the Willamette Valley, and spring gardening really is a treat!  The sun starts peeking out more, days get warmer and we start to wake up from the gray.  If you are preparing your garden this season, keep these tips in mind.  They are not an exhaustive list of to do’s, but will help you do it right the first time.  The OSU Extension offers great April gardening tips.

Looking for what blooms this month?  Download our monthly plant bloom calendar to help you decide!

Soil Conditioning

The most important gardening tip to start with is your soil. Test it if you haven’t already done so.  A proper soil pH and nutrient balance (nitrogen, phosphorous and postassium) is the path to getting maximum veggie yields and bloom production.

Soil pH directly affects nutrient availability to plants and microorganism activity. This availability then affects the quality of the plant growth.  If your soil is acidic, then dolomitic lime is the solution to raising it to proper levels. Our recommendation is to use 10-20 pounds per 1000 square feet of soil.  The preferred method is to till it in, but if you don’t have a tiller or time, just add a tablespoon per plant in the hole your are planting in.  You can find test kits at Johnson Brothers Greenhouses.

Warm Crop Planting

Thinking about planting warm crops? Hold off a bit. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, melons, etc. are sensitive to the ground temperature and we are not out of the woods yet.   Unless you use one of the following.

  • A Wall of Water. Tip – Make your own by using recycled milk jugs or soda bottles. Put plastic over the top, fill them with water and put the top back on and set them around the plant you want to protect. Instant Wall of Water!  Or if you don’t want to do it yourself, Johnson Brothers has an affordable, ready-made Wall of Water available.
  • A Greenhouse or some other form of protection

What to Plant in April

Now is the perfect time for trees, shrubs and perennials, especially since we are not in the busy season yet. Selections are the best right now. Before you plant any veggies or bedding plants, broadcast a 5-10-10 fertilizer. This will keep them fed quite a ways into the season. Make sure to follow all the labels.

Delicious edibles to plant right now are:

  •  Peas
  •  Spinach
  •  Lettuce
  •  Broccoli
  •  Cauliflower
  •  Cabbage
  •  Onion

Garden Jobs in April

  • Resist the urge to use garden soil as a substitute for potting soil in your container gardens.  The quality of these soils is variable and may not hold moisture well.  Plus, unless it is an organic mix, there is the potential for unwanted diseases, weeds and insects.
  • Invite beneficial insects to your garden area by planting Coreopsis, Feverfew and Sweet Alyssum. These are natural attractants to help ward off the bad guys.
  • Starting seeds? Try using egg cartons. They are perfect for starting seeds indoors.  All you have to do is poke a hole in the bottom for drainage, fill it with soil, plant the seeds and watch them grow.
  •  Use a Fiber Grow pellet. These pellets expand up to 10 times faster than leading peat pellets. Pellets are dried and then compressed in a biodegradable mesh netting.  They are very easy to use. All you have to do is add water to expand the pellet and then add your seeds.  After the seedlings mature, both the pellet and seedling can be directly planted into a planter or the ground.  Added bonus — they are 100% biodegradable and manufactured from a highly renewable resource, unlike many peat materials.