April’s arrival means our planting season is ramping up, and our Murphy, NC gardeners are immersed in seed starting and vegetable transplanting activities. And with the May 10 “last frost” date fast approaching, planting warm-season veggies is just around the corner. Best of all, dedicated gardeners might already be rewarded with nicely growing cool-season vegetables, planted during February and/or March. To give your plants a good start, and keep them healthy and thriving, here are 8 tips that will set you up for gardening success.
Gardening in April can be like playing a roulette wheel. Much of the time, you can expect warm, sunny weather or spring showers – perfect for growing your vegetable crops. However, a sharp cold front can change everything, giving you freezing temperatures and maybe even a touch of snow. By planning for these wild weather swings, and protecting your garden accordingly, you’ll help your plants survive until May brings more predictable conditions.
Continue Seed-Starting Work: Until mid-April, keep planting your pepper, tomato, and other warm-season vegetable seeds indoors. If you miss that window, plan to direct seed these vegetables right after our region’s May 10 “last frost” date.
Plan Tomato Crop Rotation: Pinpoint a new spot for this year’s tomato crop. By switching up your planting location, you’ll minimize the chances of soil-borne diseases affecting your vegetables.
Plant Your Herb Garden: During late April, plant your favorite culinary and/or medicinal herbs. Whether you choose colorful containers, or plant the herbs into freshly cultivated earth, your plants should be sprouting when the “last frost” date rolls around.
Keep Using Those Row Covers: Maybe you’ve enjoyed cold-hardy vegetables all winter, with help from a few strategically placed row covers. Keep using these valuable covers for a few more weeks, especially when temperatures dip at night. However, remember to remove the covers on warmer days, as you don’t want to “bake” your vegetables while they’re still in the ground.
May’s gardening chores can include a blend of sowing and reaping. First, prepare to plant your warm-season vegetables, using mid-May as a reliable target date. If you planted cool-season veggies, such as lettuce and radishes, begin picking them for your salads. And it’s always a good time for some garden maintenance, which helps to provide your seeds and plants with optimal growing conditions.
Kick Off the Composting Season: If your compost bin still holds last season’s leaves and vegetable scraps, you might have some finished compost to add to your garden. After you empty the bin, begin adding items such as hay, leaves, grass clippings, coffee grounds, and vegetable and fruit remnants. By starting early, and blending your ingredients often, you’ll minimize the time required to generate that next batch of “black gold.”
Keep Sowing and Transplanting: After the “last frost” date passes, you can safely sow your warm-season vegetables. So, break out your tomato, pepper, sweet corn, cucumber, squash, and hot-weather lettuce seed packages, among others. If you started veggie seeds in the house, give your healthy seedlings some fresh air and sunshine.
Eliminate Garden Bare Spots: After you’ve finished planting and/or transplanting your vegetables, banish garden bare spots by sowing a cover crop. Besides adding beneficial nutrients to the soil, cover crops discourage weed growth and decrease erosion. Good summer cover crops include black-eyed peas and buckwheat. Your county’s Cooperative Extension Office can suggest other cover crops that should thrive here.
Continue Cultivating Cool-Season Crops: Keep watering and weeding cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, and carrots. While you continue to harvest these and other cool-season vegetables, be aware that warmer weather may cause them to acquire a bitter taste or bolt (go to seed).
As your Murphy, NC garden enjoys good spring growing conditions, take every opportunity to get outside and play in the dirt. If you have youngsters in the family, invite them to share in the fun. And as the spring and summer months roll on, get ready to savor some delicious produce from your own mountain garden.
The Poltrock Team – REMAX Mountain Properties – Murphy NC – ilovemurphy.com – Call us Toll Free at 1-866-Murphy-NC or 1-866-687-7496 – Murphy’s #1 Real Estate Team