Spring has officially arrived! This month might see the last frost, or not. Mother Nature always keeps us guessing.
Here are a few chores you should think about doing in your fruit and vegetable garden in April.
General: Install soaker hoses and drip systems before you plant; laying out these materials when plants are in place or after seeds sprout can result in damage to the plants. Pull weeds and remove flowers from weeds to prevent seed production.
Patrol for insects and other pests and consult your local Master Gardener for ways to control them. Diagnostic Plant Clinics are held on Mondays at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Plant Clinics at the Master Gardener Demonstration Garden in Sequim start in May and are held on Saturdays.
Vegetable garden: Sow cool season vegetables directly into the garden including Asian greens, beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, potatoes, radishes and spinach. Start tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash and basil indoors under lights.
Transplant cool season vegetable starts into the garden after the average last frost date. (See sidebar.) Before transplanting, expose seedlings to outdoor conditions gradually over 7 to 10 days. Be prepared to cover tender plants if temperatures are forecast to dip below freezing.
Use row covers to protect spinach, chard and beets from leaf miners. Cover carrots immediately after planting with row cover to protect against carrot rust fly.
Check cabbage family crops for caterpillars. Look for holes in leaves and frass (caterpillar excrement).
Fertilize garlic when tops are 6-8 inches tall with a balanced fertilizer (one with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium). Do not fertilize after May 15.
Fruit trees: If scab has been a past problem, spray apple and pear trees with a fungicide registered for this disease at bud break and every seven to 10 days until the weather dries. Do not spray during bloom; wait until three-quarters of the flower petals have fallen before applying again. Spray stone fruits, such as cherries and plums, with a fungicide registered for brown rot blossom blight, if symptoms and signs of this disease are present.
Berries: Plant blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Except for day-neutral and everbearing strawberries, do not let plants flower or produce fruit during the first year.
Remove dead canes from raspberries and blackberries and trellis second-year canes, if you have not already done so. Fertilize established raspberries and blackberries, with 5:10:10 fertilizer, if you did not fertilize in March.
Rake soil under blueberries and mulch, if mummy berry has been a problem in the past. Fertilize blueberries with ammonium sulfate in late April.
This calendar is for guidance only. Growing conditions can vary from garden to garden and from spot to spot in the same garden. Please adjust your gardening activities to fit with local conditions.
Jeanette Stehr-Green is a Clallam County Master Gardener.