THE END OF APRIL AND THE CLOSEOUT OF THE COOL NIGHTS
Tomorrow will be the last day of the month of April, and maybe we will have a shower to close the month out. As we approach the month of May, we can expect warmer days and nights as well as more consistent temperatures. Now is the season to prepare for warm weather vegetables, but wait until mid-May to plant the bulk of your tomatoes for best results. Vegetables, such as green beans and lima beans can now be planted, but wait until May to plant squash and cucumbers and peppers and huge tomato crops.
PREPARING FOR THE GRAND APPEARING OF THE HUMMERS
A few hummingbirds have been seen in the area and more are arriving each day. When you see the first hummer in your backyard, place the feeders out because they will be hungry after their long trip back. Many of spring’s flowers have not reached bloom stage yet so they definitely need for us to supplement their food supply with nectar from our feeders. You can purchase nectar in quart-sized containers that is ready to use and can be refrigerated until ready to use. Nectar can be purchased in powder form to be mixed with water. Nectar can also be made by mixing half water and half sugar with a drop or two of red food coloring. Change the nectar every three or four days. Until quite a few hummers appear, fill the feeders only 1/4th full. This will avoid wasting a lot of nectar.
LAST OPPORTUNITY TO PLANT A POTATO ROW OR BED
There is still a little margin of time to plant an Irish potato crop and be assured of making a harvest before Dog Days begin, but they must be planted this week. Many seed potatoes that you purchase will be already sprouting at this time so this will speed your harvest by a week or so. You can choose from Kennebec, Irish Cobbler, Red, Pontiac, or Yukon Gold. Plant them one foot apart and ten to twelve inches deep. Cover with a layer of peat moss and then a layer of soil, and then tamp down the soil with a hue blade.
MOWING THE MOIST GRASS OF EARLY SPRING
The lawn in early May will have plenty of moisture in it because of dews that take quite a while for the sun to dry out, as well as spring showers that keep the lawn wet for a long period. Never mow grass that is laden with water or dew. Wait until the sun evaporates and dries the lawn. Dry grass mows and cuts cleaner and makes for a better looking lawn. Wet grass causes mowers to clog up the housing of the mower and causes rust as well as pile up clippings all over the lawn.
A GROWTH POTION FOR THE GARDEN ALL SEASON LONG
A 3.5 cubic foot bale of peat moss is a great garden product for anything that grows whether flowers, plants, or seeds. Peat moss is a good plant medium and soil additive and improver that adds and retains moisture to any type of soil. Add a handful of it to everything you sow or plan. For an extra start for seeds, pour water on the seeds and peat moss before covering with soil.
MOVING CHRISTMAS CACTUS OUTSIDE FOR SPRING AND SUMMER
The cactus have been in the living room since mid-October and they bloomed in mid-November and are now healthy and ready for their annual move to the front porch for the warm weather of the upcoming season. When adding extra soil to your Christmas cactus or replacing them in larger pots, always use cactus medium instead of potting soil. Cactus need a drink of water once every week and a shot of liquid fertilizer twice each month. When you place them outside, place in a semi-sunny location. They need to spend summers outside because this assures that they will bloom when taken inside in winter.
ANOTHER SPECIAL GARDEN PRODUCT TO ALWAYS KEEP ON HAND
Every garden in the Piedmont region needs lime added to the soil to condition the acidity. A bag of lime is heavy and weigh in at 50 pounds. It can be purchased in pellet form but the powdered form is more effective in vegetable gardens because it quickly absorbs moisture. A bag costs less than three dollars and can be applied directly to all crops that you plant. When applying powdered lime, place it in the furrow and then mix it with soil in the furrow, then plant seed or plants and cover with peat moss, a covering of water and then the top soil.
PLANTING A ROW OF EARLY STRIKE GREEN BEANS
The season is here for sowing a row of strike green beans or Top Crop green beans for an early spring treat. They will respond quickly to the soil temperature of early May and produce a crop in around 64 days. You can plant another crop of beans in mid-May and another at the end of May and you will have beans all during the summer. Strikes and Top Crop are the very best and most productive of all green beans.
GETTING THE HANGING BASKETS READY FOR SUMMER
The month of May and spring flowers is only two days from now and it’s the time to get pots and hanging baskets ready for annual flowers. Clean out the pots and add fresh potting soil to the baskets and containers. You can choose from impatiens, petunias, begonias, Boston fern, Asparagus fern, coleus, dwarf marigold, Vinca, forget-me-nots, verbena and rose moss.
IMPATIENS ALWAYS PRODUCE PRETTY HANGING BASKETS
Many flowers do well in hanging baskets but none are better than the colorful impatiens. You can choose from many colors such as red, pink, salmon, wine, and white. Never plant more than three per basket so they won’t become root-bound. Use a good flower potting medium to get them off to a great start. They will produce blooms all the way until frost.
A ROW OR BED OF ZINNIAS TO BEGIN THE MERRY MONTH OF MAY
In just four more days the month of May begins. What better way to begin the month than by planting packets of the colorful Zinnias in a bed or row. You can choose from packets of red, yellow, white, orange, lavender, purple, green, pink, rose, and peppermint. You can mix all the colors for a rainbow effect or plant in individual color segments. Either way they will produce blooms all the way until frost. Zinnias will also attract plenty of butterflies, bees, and birds. Zinnias also make beautiful cut flower arrangements.
STILL A FEW COOL DAYS AND NIGHTS REMAINING
It is a sure thing the last frost date has now past, but one is still a possibility. We know for sure that a few more cool nights are in the forecast, so hold off on tomato, pepper, and egg plants, squash, cucumber and lima beans until May gets well on its way. It is safe to plant green beans, because by the time they sprout, the soil will be warmer.
Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at BSylvia1946@gmail.com.