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A Note From Rick | April is a Busy Time in the Vegetable Garden

How-to
Bridge Gardens
April 10, 2021

By Rick Bogusch

If you’re thinking of growing your own vegetables, there’s no time to waste now that April has arrived. It may seem early in the season, but I’ve already seeded radish, spinach, arugula, broccoli rabe, radicchio and kale last month. They germinate well in cool soil and will grow well during this month, allowing for harvests starting in early May. Planting crops in the cabbage/mustard family like broccoli and arugula before it’s warm enough for destructive flea beetles to hatch produces better crops too.

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Early vegetables include spinach

Very soon seeds for beets, carrots, lettuce and peas will go in the ground. Early April is a good time to plant peas. I always grow Sugar Snap because it produces so many pods we get tired of picking them. Sugar snaps require supports, so if you’re thinking about growing this tasty and productive vegetable, be prepared to create a trellis. Here at Bridge Gardens our community gardeners use various trellis options as shown below. In the vegetable beds, I often use pieces of bamboo that I harvest from the grove that has been growing here since the Trust received the garden from founders Jim Kilpatric and Harry Neyens.

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One kind of trellis for snap peas

If you grew your own cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seedlings or bought them at the garden center, late April is a good time to plant any cole crop in the garden. Spacing is important. Give cabbages at least a couple feet between plants. I usually plant broccoli and cauliflower plants 18 inches apart, but may try larger spacing to increase the size of heads. Onion sets can be planted now, along with onion and leek plants and scallion seeds.

April is a busy time in the vegetable garden, but it’s also good to take some time good to plan and plant for the rest of the season. Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, herbs like basil and many annual flowers can all be started from seed early this month for planting out at the end of May. When planning your vegetable and herb garden, keep in mind the area of your landscape that offers the most sun for plants like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, beans, carrots, and most herbs. At least six hours of full sun will provide you with a strong harvest.

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Speaking of herbs, there are already signs of life in our four-quadrant herb garden. After we finish clean-up, it will be time to seed dill, coriander and borage directly in the garden and parsley, calendula, epazote, basils and others in cell packs for planting later. The herb garden has many perennials, but it also has many herbs that come back every year from seed. This includes herbs like poppy, foxgloves, California poppy, Java ginseng, dyer’s coreopsis, weld, woad, anise hyssop and fennel. If you take time to flag areas for annuals, this will help you space out plants as you plan your herb garden. I use color coded flags, as pictured below.

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Color coded flags for planting herbs

When you visit, you’ll find other signs of spring, especially in the Inner Garden close to the house. Under the large oak tree in the inner garden, we have several varieties of hellebores. With varying texture, color and flowering habit, they are a wonderful harbinger of spring to be enjoyed from late winter through early June. Burgundy red, creamy white and even pale chartreuse flowers are on display right now.

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For many people, the color yellow appears early in the gardens from plants that include daffodils and forsythia. When this happens, it’s time to uncover roses from their winter mulch and give them their first pruning. We usually remove any dead wood at first, then go back for thinning and shaping.

Last year, we planted hundreds more daffodils to our already large spring display, so we’re looking forward to seeing their cheery faces emerge. Daffodils are generally passed over by deer, making them a good choice for your garden. Our first blooming daffodils are paired with crocus and can be found alongside the columns supporting our wisteria arbor. Just this week, after a bit of warm up, the daffodils began blooming in earnest and will continue for weeks. It’s always good to plant early, mid- and late-blooming varieties to extend the bloom time in your garden.

I hope you’ll stop by to enjoy all the signs of spring at the Gardens. And, be sure to join us for our upcoming programs, still virtual at this time. Check out our calendar. I look forward to seeing you soon!

~~ Rick


New Rabbit Fence Will Control Nibbling at the Community Gardens


A big Thank You goes out to Garden Assistant Shawn Gant for his excellent, almost single-handed work to protect the community garden plots from the rabbits that call Bridge Gardens home.

While we have a perimeter fence to prevent deer from munching all things beautiful, rabbits have been more difficult to deter. We hope this growing season will be different, now that the fence is almost complete. Thanks to Jeffrey Glick and Greg Wiseman, whose generous support made the rabbit fence possible.

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Garden Assistant Shawn Gant by the new rabbit fence

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