This post is a part of a new series about the things I usually do/sow/harvest in my garden in a given month. I post at the beginning of each month as inspiration for other (aspiring) gardeners. At the end of each month I check in to let you know how the month went in the garden (April in rearview mirror). My garden is in the eastern part of the Netherlands, in a cool temperate climate, roughly zone 7. Your sowing times might be somewhat different depending on your local climate.
April to do list:
beets, carrots, parsnips, peas, sugar snaps, snow peas, lettuce, chard, leeks, kohlrabi, last broad beans, parsley, spring onions
Sowing on the windowsill:
Pumpkins and winter squash, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, cabbages, kale, broccoli, sweet corn, basil
Potatoes, onions, shallots
Rhubarb, last leeks, sprouting broccoli, winter purslane, first radishes, asparagus, first cut-and-some-again greens
Prick out and pot on seedlings grown inside as they get bigger
Harden off seedlings that are about to be planted out
Start mulching between plants when soil is warm
Thin rows of seedlings as necessary
Support broad beans and peas
April is probably the busiest sowing month of all. The soil has warmed up by now, so most hardy vegetables can be sown directly into the ground. The windowsill is getting awfully busy with ever growing plants that need to be repotted. I presow all pumpkin, squash and cucumbers inside in the second half of the month. They grow fast and can only be planted outside from about mid May, so no need to do it earlier. They would only take up precious window sill space and smaller plants tend to handle the transition to the outside better anyway.
Any plants that have been raised inside should be hardened off to minimize the shock of getting from the cozy indoors to the harsh outdoors with its winds blowing and cold rains falling. Hardening off means just gradually getting the plants used to the different conditions. It can be done in a cold frame if you have one but I usually just set the plants outside when the weather is mild and prolong the time they spend outside till they are “weaned off”. The process takes about 7 to 14 days, depending on how the weather cooperates. If you do not harden your plants they will most probably not die after being planted out, but the growth will stop temporarily and the plants will be set back.
As soon as the soil is warm, it is worth starting to mulch the ground between plants – it saves a tremendous amount of work in the long run, suppressing weeds and cutting on watering but is also beneficial for the soil in other ways. A layer of mulch protects the soil from erosion and any harsh conditions generally.
And not to forget, this month some delicious first harvests can be expected: namely the long awaited rhubarb and asparagus. Because we could not move our asparagus plants when we had to move to another plot last year, I will be sowing new asparagus this month and then will have to wait for three years to enjoy it. Towards the end of the month we usually harvest the first radishes and cut-and-some-again greens, especially if they have benefited from the protection of horticultural fleece.