April is the perfect time to get the vegetable garden established. There are also some other tasks that we can do now. April in the Northwest region may be full of rain and temperatures that fluctuate but with the assistance of some cloches or low tunnels, your veggie garden can get a head start on the growing season. This isn’t the only chore in need of being done, however. Northwest Gardening in April brings with it warmer temperatures, albeit for many regions lots of rain. For the diehard gardener, a little rain isn’t an issue and April gardening tasks wait for no one.
If you didn’t already do so in March, till under any cover crops you’ve planted. If you didn’t use cover crops, amend the soil with plenty of aged compost and mix it into the soil well.
If you were going to start veggies from seed, hopefully you’ve already done so indoors and have the seedlings under lights. If you haven’t started seeds indoors yet, it’s time to get cracking.. or plan on purchasing starts from the nursery.
There are some seeds that can be directly sown outdoors at this time, especially if you are using a low tunnel or cloche to protect them at night. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi can be direct sown in April. That said, snails and slugs abound in some regions of the Pacific Northwest, and they like these crops as much as you do, which means they will often eat up your emerging seedlings. In this case, it is better to transplant larger plants mid-April to May.
Members of the nightshade family like temperatures a bit warmer, but they should be started by April and ready to be transplanted in May when things warm up a bit. You can get away with direct sowing salad greens, Asian greens, Swiss chard, and most herbs during the month of April. The exception to the herbs is basil, which should be started indoors and ready for transplant mid-May. April is the time to direct sow peas and fava beans as well. Tender cucurbits such as cucumber, summer squash, and winter squash should be sown indoors for transplant when temperatures warm in May. All the root crops can be direct sown in April, just be sure to rake the soil until it is light and fluffy without impediments. Asparagus and rhubarb crowns, horseradish and potatoes can all be planted now.
Additional Gardening Tasks for the Pacific Northwest April’s gardening chores don’t stop with establishing the veggie garden. Now is the time to divide perennials and plant bare root fruit trees, berries, and vines. Alkaline loving plants such as lilac, mock orange, deutzia and daphne need a shot of lime at this time. Just sprinkle garden lime in a circle around the base of these plants.
If you want to change the color of your mophead hydrangeas from blue to pink, now is the time to apply lime to adjust the soil pH.
Now is also the perfect time to give the garden a little color by planting annuals such as: Dusty miller, Calendula, Marigold, Pansy, Snapdragon, Sweet alyssum, Sweet William, etc!
Because slugs and snails can decimate both newly emerging seedlings and tender transplants, take a proactive approach by setting beer bait traps or sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the delicate plants.
Lastly, with the onset of plentiful moisture and warmer temperatures come weeds. A perennial chore in most landscapes, April is the time to get at them before they get out of hand and overtake the garden you’ve just been working so hard on.