April holds a special place in our hearts. We turn two years old in April. I, personally, celebrate tax day as its my birthday. Most importantly, though, is that our last frost dated is slated to be April 18th! Last year we celebrated the official start to planting season at the Master Gardeners Garden Expo. I wish we had the time and staff to attend said expo, as well as the crabtree spring plant sell, but we are seeing a huge season this year. We have added so many new friends to our list and we are seeing our shelves constantly be emptied. We are beyond grateful for everyone’s visits and recommendations of new customers. We are absolutely swamped with orders and questions. We cannot thank those enough that have showed us patience and support.
Integrated Pest Management
With warm weather comes pesky pests. To get a head start on common problems that we see in the garden you may want to consider beneficial insects. With an army of ladybugs you can control aphids in your greenhouse, tent, or garden. Add some beneficial nematodes and let them destroy a whole list of pest larvae. Applying them is simple and easy. Most are ready to just be released, and some stick around even after they have eaten everything. Skip the chemicals and treat your garden with natural remedies. Remember it’s easier to control infestations when they are small. It takes time to establish a beneficial insect population. Catch those pests before the threshold requires immediate action leading to using harsh sprays. We have several types of bugs that you can have shipped right to your door! Visit us for more information!
Hardening Off Plants
When transplanting seedlings from their cozy indoor spot to the outside they go through a transplant shock. The plants will look droopy or wilted for a few days than spring back up once they acclimate to their new home. By going from indoor to outdoors you are adding a significant amount of stress to them. They are not used to the temperature fluctuations or the bright light. Putting stress on plants basically puts them behind on their growth cycle. To combat that put your seedling trays out an hour or two in a sunny spot for a few days and increase it every other day until they are ready to transplant. Start this a week or two before transplanting. Of course, if its below-average temperatures keep them in, but we may be seeing those days behind us in Chattanooga, TN.
Haven’t added amendments yet? The time is now! It is easier to add them before you plant. You can always plant before adding anything and side or top dress them, but you are reliant on the weather and it is our rainy season. We have a few options in the store of organic amendments, but what do they do?
Guanos: We carry both bat and seabird guanos. They run high in nitrogen hand phosphorus (two of the three macronutrients plants need). They feed beneficial soil microbes which help break down nutrients for plants to make them easier to take up. It has also been proven that healthy roots mean healthy plant and a healthy plant is less desirable to pest and diseases, they are both lazy organisms and choose weaker plants. Guanos are highly concentrated, so a bag of it covers a wide area. Our 2.2 lb bag covers a little over 200 square feet! Apply 2 weeks before planting to allow some breakdown, this is pretty “hot” stuff.
Worm Compost: Also referred to worm castings is the mother of all organic amendments. It is basically all the benefits of compost but more readily available for plant uptake. The worms do a great job of breaking down compost and turning it into black gold. Rich in all nutrients, especially nitrogen. It also helps with water retention, soil structure, and plant vigor. You can apply this at any time of the year and as much as you can or want to.
Greensand: One of the most helpful soil conditioners that we offer. The southeast is known for our clay ridden soils. During times of drought this gives us some advantage, but other times, well most of the time, we need help breaking down that clay. Clay structures make drainage difficult, nutrients are stored and hard for plants to obtain and when mixed with normal sand we get a cement mixture. Greensand is not normal sand. This natural product is also high in potassium and trace minerals. Apply in the springtime before planting.
Alfalfa Meal: Great source of nitrogen and trace minerals. A plant-based amendment that comes in granular form. Many use this as a rose fertilizer.
Azomite: The largest range of trace minerals reside in the beds of Utah from an ancient volcano. Use this as a soil conditioner or to remineralize depleted soils. Apply when you transplant or work in your plot.
Blood Meal: Nitrogen plays a key role in the first part of a plant’s life. Blood meal is a strong source of slow-release organic nitrogen. Apply once a month during the growing season.
Bone Meal: Great for flowering plants, trees, and ornamentals. Bone meal is known for being a go-to bulb plant fertilizer. A significant source of phosphorus and calcium. Phosphorus is a big help in root development, and we always say bigger better roots lead to bigger better plants. Can be applied anytime during the plant’s life. Use Fish Bone Meal for an alternative to bone meal.
Cottonseed Meal: Traditionally used as a fertilizer for acidic soil loving plants (berries, flowering shrubs, and evergreens). Also, a good vegan fertilizer that adds nitrogen to your soil. It can be applied anytime during growing season.
Crab Meal: Brings an excellent source of nitrogen and phosphorus and a host of trace minerals. Crab meals coarse texture assists in soil drainage and tilth. Apply anytime during the year. For a powder alternative, ask for shrimp meal.
Granular Humic Acids: Apply humic acids in the spring of fall to your beds, fields, or plots. Humic Acids are said to help transport micronutrients to your roots. Many potting soils and nutrient blends have humic acids added to them,.
Kelp Meal: An overall mild nutrient for any type of plant. Use in your containers raised beds, or fields. Look for ethically and clean-sourced kelp. Kelp meal can be applied any time of the year anyway.
Langbeinite: A naturally mined crystalline mineral that supplies the water-soluble sulfate form of three vital plant nutrients: potassium, magnesium, and sulfurs. Its maximum chlorine content is less than 3.0 percent, minimizing the potential for fertilizer “burn,” and it’s neutral pH does not alter soil activity. Apply once a month during the growing season.
Neem Seed Meal: Also known as neem cake, it is used as an organic amendment to enrich the soil. It can be steeped much like a tea to create a potent liquid fertilizer. Apply once a month during the growing season. It can be used with any plant.
Oyster Shell: Used as an excellent source of organic calcium additive. Many times we keep our pH levels in a range that calcium and magnesium are not readily available. Adding an amendment with these nutrients help keep your plants from forming chlorosis. In addition to adding a needed source of important minerals, it is good for soil structure as well. Apply n the spring or fall to beds, fields or plots.
Rock Phosphate: Rock Phosphate is essential for building soil phosphate levels for long-term plant productivity and for preventing calcium deficient soils. This premium powder grade is an excellent nutrient resource for all types of flowering plants including bulbs, fruits, shrubs, trees, and vegetables.
It should be applied to soils prior to planting and can be mixed with compost or manures for additional soil-building benefits.
Mycorrhizae: Is a fast-growing, beneficial fungus that increases nutrient and water uptake by forming a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a plant. Mycorrhizae is needed to break down, cycle, and retain nutrients as well as provide a front line of defense against environmental stresses, pathogens, and diseases. Mycorrhizae will continue to grow with your plants becoming an extension of the roots and administering better efficiency and sustainability. With a larger and healthier root system, plants are given the opportunity to increase crop yields and secondary metabolites.
What to plant and when to transplant
April is our time! We are out and about in the garden. Weekend warriors are in full force. Our farmers are gearing up for a long season. We are seeing an uptick in customers. We love April. It is the month of new beginnings and vitamin D.
To Transplant Start Outdoors
- Broccoli- 4/1-4/6
- Beans 4/13-5/4
- Cantaloupe- 4/20-5/11
- Beets 4/1-4/13
- Celery- 4/13-4/27
- Corn 4/6-4/20
- Cucumbers- 4/20-5/11
- Okra 4/20-5/4
- Eggplants- 4/20-5/11
- Potatoes 4/1-4/20
- Peppers- 4/20-5/11
- Pumpkins 4/20-5/11
- Sweet Potatoes-4/20-5/11
Remember to plant in succession (don’t plant all at once) so that you can reap the benefits of fresh produce for longer periods of time.
It is also helpful to start and keep a gardening journal for future reference. Jot down garden plans and bumps in the road. This will serve as a reference for years to come.