There seems to be a new trend this year where I don't get around to posting my monthly to-do list until closer to the middle of the month! Ah well, there hasn't been to much to do yet anyway, so I haven't been feeling too motivated. Some people are already excitedly checking their garden for signs of plants popping up, but in my shady and heavily-mulched yard, there is not much happening yet. I have however, just finished cleaning the windows so thoroughly that I feel like I'm going to fall out of my house! (That will be about the extent of my spring cleaning!)
With windows out of the way, it is time to start poking around the garden. Here are some yardwork tips for April:
- Finish pruning if you haven't already done so (see my February to-do list for more details)
- Start pulling back winter mulch (dried leaves) from the crowns of growing perennials, but don't remove it entirely until May, as those ladybugs need places to sleep!
- Start cutting back perennials left standing for the winter (this is spring's biggest job for me as I have A LOT of perennials, so I'll still be doing this into May. But I start in the sunniest, hottest areas of the garden and do the coolest, shadiest spots last.) Note that there are a few perennials such as bergenia and spring-flowering clematis which shouldn't be cut back!
- Once exisitng plants are growing, you can start moving them around the garden if you like. I have been known to start moving plants at the end of April, but there's no rush for this. This year, I have a few perennials overwintering in the veggie garden that I'm going to have to move by the end of the month (see below.)
- I've started plenty of seeds of large, ornamental annuals to fill up the big, new garden area I've got in the front yard. It's not too late to start your own! Lavatera and nicotiana sylvestris are two of my favourites to start this month.
- Pansies can be planted out in pots now, for a shot of spring colour. And yes, you can leave them out to -5oC!!
- Plan the veggie garden in terms of what is going where, and how much of it. Practice crop rotation for a large garden, or if you have a small, square-foot-gardening style garden like me, crop rotation practically takes care of itself by making one small change to the design. Plenty of info can be found here in Vegetable Gardening in Calgary 101.
- I direct-sow all my vegetables (except tomatoes, of course!) so I'll be topping up my raised beds with my own worm castings and store-bought compost to get them ready to plant in early May. See this post When to Plant Vegetable Seeds in Calgary.
- I have quite a few seeds already started on my shelves in the basement. Here is a good post if you're wondering how to take care of your seedlings.
- Set up rain barrels.
- Clean, level and fill bird baths.