The Garden Plot: Don’t be fooled by fickle April weather

We are now into April, a month of very fickle unpredictable weather and no time to gamble on warm weather vegetables. We can expect showers and still some cool days and nights. If you do gamble on a few tomato plants, set out only as many as you can cover up each night. But I recommend you wait until more stable weather in May to set out tomatoes and peppers.

We do not think it is global warming or cooler weather patterns or just weather extremes, but April showers in the 21st century seems to only be the words of love songs. We remember as kids we walked to school almost every day and back home in an April shower. We still have a few but not as common as place as they were.

April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring an unforgettable fresh aroma as well as a breath of April fresh air. Maybe this will be a come back year for the rebirth of April showers!

The blooms of daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, narcissus and tulips have faded away but the foliage is still green and important. Do not cut or mow them, but allow them to phase their way out. They are passing strength to what will be next seasons blooms and bulbs for next spring. Just let the run their course and fade out on their own. They are the heirlooms of the flower world.

Almanac for April

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. Thomas Jefferson’s birthday is April 13. Good Friday is April 15. There will be a full moon on April 16, the “Full Pink Moon,” “Paschal Moon” or “Passover Moon.” Passover begins at sundown on April 15. Easter is April 17. Earth Day comes up on April 22 and National Arbor Day is April 29. There will be a new moon on April 30.

Sow a row of carrots

April is the month to sow carrots. Carrots have a difficult time producing in acid soil from the Piedmont, but this problem can be solved by improving soil texture and adding amendments to the soil. They require 90 days to produce a harvest. Plant the long varities such as Danvers Long.

To prepare a bed that will be receptive to growth of carrots, add peat moss, Black Cow composted cow manure, bone meal, blood meal, a couple of bags of top soil and compost. Mix all together and sow carrot seed in a six inch deep furrow. Sow seed thinly and cover with layer of peat moss on top and bottom of seed. Apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the row and tamp down with the hoe blade.

Feed once a month with Plant-Tone and as carrots grow, keep soil hilled up on both sides of the row. Water every week with water wand on “spray” mode when no rain falls.

Beets are another cool weather vegetable that needs an early April start because they require a long growing season. Beet seed are very hard and need to be soaked for several hours before you plant them. After soaking the seed, sow the beet seed in a furrow about four inches deep. Cover with a layer of peat moss and water the peat moss and seed in the furrow, apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and cover by hilling up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down. Water often when rain is not in the forecast. Feed every 20 days with Plant-Tone or Miracle-Gro liquid plant food.

When beets sprout, thin them to three inches apart. Hill soil up to them every 10 days. Beets will need a growing season of around 90 days and they demand a whole lot of patience.

Warm weather seeds

Seed for warm weather vegetables can be purchased now and stored in a cool dry place. Packages of seed including flowers can now be purchased including flower seed packets. Zinnias come in many sizes, varities and colors. Try to discover as many different colors and varities as you can find to make a colorful bed or row that will perform all summer long.

Deadline for Irish potatoes

The deadline for setting out a row or bed of Irish potatoes is defiantly this week. They do need to be in the ground now because they are a root crop that requires a 90-day growing period. Planting this week will assure a harvest before the heat of July.

Heavenly Delight

This is a dessert that lives up to its name and is easy to prepare.

2 sticks butter or margarine

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup pecans, chopped

2 cups plain flour

12 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cups confectioners sugar

2 cups Cool Whip

1 3 oz. box instant french vanilla pudding mix

1 3 oz. box instant cheesecake pudding mix

3 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter, brown sugar, pecans and flour and spread evenly in a 13 x9x2 inch baking dish. Bake at for ten minutes. Mix cream cheese, sugar and Cool Whip and pour over the cooled crust of chopped pecan mixture. Mix the pudding mixes and milk and pour over top of cream cheese mixture. Top with Cool whip and refrigrate.

Hoe-hoe-hoedown

Student: “Would you punish someone for something they did not do?” Teacher: “Certainly not.” Student: “Good, because I did not do my homework.”

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