April is here… Nurturing soil, seedlings and spirits! Zone 5-7

April is here… Nurturing soil, seedlings and spirits! Zone 5-7

Soil & Margaritas

Have you ever heard the saying “April showers bring May flowers?” Well, if your weather is anything like mine in Central Indiana.. April is bringing showers, snow, some hurricane-like winds and sunny days too, and if you are lucky, they can all happen in one day :) 

April is the month when our gardens start whispering (or, in some cases, shouting) for attention after their winter slumber. April is not just an ordinary month for gardeners; it’s a call to action.

Here’s your friendly guide to navigating this exciting, if slightly manic, period in the gardening calendar. Let’s break it down into digestible (and occasionally laughable) chunks, shall we?

100ft 5/8" Superflex Hose & Hanger Pack

100ft 5/8" Superflex Hose & Hanger Pack

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Beige Garden Hose Reel with spray nozzle against white background

82ft Retractable Hose Reel - Beige

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Soil's Getting Warm, finally!

First off, our beloved soil is finally shaking off the chill of winter. You can almost hear it yawning and stretching like a cat in the sun. This warming-up phase is crucial because warm soil equals happy plants.

Now that the soil is ready to welcome new life, it’s time for direct sowing… But, What is direct sowing? Simply put, direct sowing means placing seeds directly into the ground (or containers, or raised beds) outside. Some seeds are daring adventurers that prefer the great outdoors from the get-go. Think peas, lettuce, cilantro, carrots, radishes and beets. Give them a pep talk, plant them in the ground, and watch the miracle unfold.

Last month I mentioned the importance of adding compost to your raised beds, but if you forgot or life just got in the way, you are not too late to add some fresh organic material this month, it is easier to add bulk amounts into your growing areas without any plants instead of having to scoop individual amounts later on when the plants are all grown.

The Indoor Seedling Nursery

For those of us who like a bit more control (or just love the sight of greenery indoors), starting seeds indoors is like running a small, leafy daycare. This process allows you to play Mother Nature, giving your seedlings a head start. Just remember, they will eventually have to face the real world, so no coddling!

Depending on where you live, you may be 2-4 weeks before your last frost date arrives which seems just around the corner, if you are wondering about what seeds to start indoors now, here is a list to get you started:

Seeds to start 4 weeks before - Basil, Amaranth, Tomatoes, Marigolds, Salvia, Oregano.

Seeds to start 2 weeks before - Cucumber, Zucchini, Melons, Zinnias, Sunflowers.

This is also the perfect month to start some dahlia tubers indoors, this will allow you to get a head start with these amazing flowers making sure you get some blooms a bit earlier. To get them going make sure to give them a warm - bright spot in your home and use a container at least 1 gallon in size per tuber, they don’t like their roots disturbed and need plenty of room to grow, make sure to use a nice quality potting mix too.

Premium Metal Oscillating Sprinkler

Premium Metal Oscillating Sprinkler

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Brass High Pressure Jet Nozzle

Brass High Pressure Jet Nozzle

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Hardening Off: Boot Camp for Plants

Speaking of facing the real world, let’s talk about the hardening-off process (My least favorite chore if I’m being honest). It’s essentially a slow (SLOW!) process of transitioning your plants to the outside before they move out permanently. This involves gradually exposing your pampered indoor seedlings to the elements. Think of it as teaching them to layer up before going out in the cold. A little sun here, a touch of breeze there, and voila! They’re ready for the great outdoors.

Do not rush this process, allow yourself several days to slowly get these plants outside. I start by giving them lots of shade in the first few days and gently introducing the sunshine to the baby leaves, throughout the years, I have killed many seedlings because of my impatience, you have spend countless hours tending to your plants indoors, take the extra time to welcome them to the outside world.

Shopping for Plants: The Garden’s Candy Store

And then there’s the plant shopping—oh, the joy! Walking into a nursery after the long nursery is a feeling only another gardener can appreciate, is like being a kid in a candy store, but instead of candy, it’s all the plants you promised yourself you wouldn’t buy (but definitely will). Whether it’s a new variety of tomato or a flower you can’t pronounce, this is the time to indulge those green-fingered desires. Just remember to exercise some level of restraint; your garden is not a bottomless pit, no matter how much we wish it were.

Pink Secateurs 225mm

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Green 6 Gallon Heavy Duty Planter Bag on a white background

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Fertilizing: The Breakfast of Champions

Now, let’s talk about the vital addition to our April to-do list: fertilizing our perennials and shrubs. Think of fertilizer as the breakfast of champions for your garden. After a long winter, your perennials and shrubs are like teenagers waking up at noon, famished and ready to devour everything in the fridge. A balanced meal—in this case, fertilizer—gives them the energy to burst into spring growth, producing lush leaves, vibrant flowers, and the robust health we aim for. Just follow the directions on your fertilizer of choice to avoid overfeeding. After all, too much of a good thing can lead to the garden equivalent of a sugar rush.

Personally, this is the month where I concentrate on fertilizing a few things in my garden like boxwoods, hydrangeas and some perennials, but shrubs that have been established for years in my garden hardly ever get a dose of fertilizer.

Embracing the Garden Chaos with a Smile

Now, with this long to-do list, it’s easy to feel like you’re standing at the bottom of Mount Everest, wearing flip-flops. Here’s where I remind you to breathe. Gardening is not about conquering the giant all at once; it’s about enjoying the climb. When the list of chores seems overwhelming, focus on the small wins. Completed a round of weeding? Pat yourself on the back. Managed to fertilize that little corner? Celebrate with a cup of tea.

The key is to break down the monumental into the manageable. Instead of eyeing the entire garden with a sense of dread, tackle one bed at a time, or set a goal of planting just a few seeds each day. Small daily goals make the workload seem less daunting and more like a series of victories.

In the end, April in the garden is a bit like life—unpredictable, sometimes overwhelming, but ultimately rewarding. Gardening, after all, is about growth—of our plants, our gardens, and ourselves.

Here’s to a fruitful April, filled with growth, laughter, and maybe just a little bit of fertilizer under the fingernails. Happy gardening, friends!

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