April- What's in Kate's Garden?


In My Garden (Zone 5-6)

Kate Copsey
Kate has relocated many times giving her experience in gardening from sandy upstate New York to Georgia clay and many areas between. She currently gardens in Central New Jersey. Kate also hosts the popular radio show “America’s Home Grown Veggies” heard every Saturday on America’s Wb Radio.

On the east coast we are entering April and still waiting for spring. The early spring flowers are dowsed with snow every time they attempt to grow just one quarter of an inch and so far only one little crocus has managed to put out a flower. The same sad tales are heard across the Midwest as well as the east coast, so you are not alone thinking that spring is rather late. Last year this little guy bloomed on March 11th, this year it was March 25th!


The good news is that if we have a mild and almost normal April, it will be wonderful. With the forsythia not blooming in the garden and the trees still holding onto their blossom, the warm weather will bring them all into bloom together very quickly.
A sudden warm up could also spell trouble for cool weather crops which so far have not been planted in many areas. Six weeks is really not enough time for kales and lettuce to mature let alone the first crop of peas.

So the seedlings started in March are still waiting to be transplanted and the tomatoes are germinating alongside them making for a very crowded ‘garden room’. Some are going into containers which can be brought indoors or easily covered if we get some cold nights. I have some new containers with self-watering bases plus a new upright pole that holds 5 containers with just a small amount of deck space. Vertical growing seems to be the latest convenience in space optimization.

Seedlings in self-watering growing system

The seedlings join the peas in the sunroom which have put out a few flowers. Peas self-pollinate which makes them fine for indoor growing if you have space. So far I have managed to get a few peas growing and maybe we will have enough for a meal by mid-March. I can recommend at least starting peas indoors if you have some space and a large container. Sow just half a pack of peas indoors and let it grow in a sunny area, then when late March brings some milder weather, put the whole container outside to continue to grow and produce peas.

Seedlings waiting to move out of the house.

In the basement the canna bulbs have started to sprout. I am not sure what makes that happen right when the daylight lengthens but dahlias and other tender bulbs all lay quietly in the container in a dark corner but start to emerge from dormancy just at the right time.


Canna bulbs breaking dormancy.

The vegetable garden, when it was briefly free of snow allowed me to see that the garlic is still going strong and the strawberries are doing fine. I have rhubarb at the end of the strawberry bed and wanted to force it like my parents did. They used an old metal bucket which I didn’t have, so I looked online for a rhubarb forcing bucket – mega bucks for what is basically a terracotta pot with decorative, removable lid. I found a regular terracotta container and put a stopper in it to allow the rhubarb to vent and get moisture.

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • Tired of your yard being used as a shortcut? Had enough of deer and neighborhood pets inviting themselves into your garden? Plants with prickly leaves or thorns are very useful in the landscape as barrier plants. Barberry, pyracantha, holly, yucca, cotoneaster, juniper, mahonia, and landscape roses are both ornamental and good deterrents. Planted as hedges at the perimeter of the property, they discourage anyone or anything from wandering into your yard.