What to do in the Garden Now – April

Spring has truly sprung in the Pacific NW and after several weeks of travel it is clear that spring is springing all over the northern hemisphere. Gardens in New Orleans have 1/2 grown artichokes, while those in Seattle are just under a foot tall. In the UK brassicas are beginning to flower, whereas in NY they are really starting to put on growth after a frosty over-winter. It is time to get some garden work done if you haven’t started already. Some things to do right now:

1. WEED – weed, weed, weed. Prolific chickweed is cropping up all over Seattle and it’s flowering. Soon, it will go to seed and if you do NOT want that to happen. When chickweed seed is mature, one brief brush of the plant will send the seeds flying and you’ll easily find 10 times the amount of weeds later in summer. Instead, weed them now and save yourself hours of labor in the coming weeks.

2. SOW – This from by hero, Steve Solomon – “By early April the sun has become forceful. Species that store sugar can now grow, so I sow beets, onions, and carrots. Even though these can often germinate under plastic five or six weeks sooner, they’ll barely grow before April because there’s not enough solar energy.” So, yes! Sow your beets, carrots & onion sets.

3. SHARE – Divide your rhubarb OR get your friends to share a piece of theirs…stat, before it gets too too warm. This is a now or not-till-late-fall thing. Dig up the entire plant. Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhizoneroot systems are large and deep, so it’s inevitable that you’ll break through a lot of the root structure. Don’t worry–focus on getting the crown out in one piece, along with a good portion of the rhizome – the big fat roots. These are necessary for the success of any future growth. When the crown and rhizome are dug up, cut between the buds so that each new planting has a bud or two, in addition to a piece of rhizome. Once you have the divisions separated, plant the rhubarb in well-composted soil. (This is the short version of directions. For awesomely detailed & foolproof directions, be sure to check out April’s eBook, Fresh Pantry: Rhubarb)

4. PLANT – Sow your Peas. Peas & Scarlet Runner Beans can be sown in the first or second week of March, but there is still loads of time. Make a note to get started a bit earlier next year, and sow some now for a late-May/early-June harvest. Peas can also be sown in pots if you’re relying on a container garden for food this year. Most legumes have root systems that spread laterally but don’t grow down too deep and are therefore great for containers. They also put up pretty sweet pea flowers (that then turn into peas) and grow tall, adding some height to the garden. In addition to pea pods, you can also harvest pea vines from the plant without hurting production too much. Clip new vine growth and use in sautés or soups.