This time of year it is very, very tempting to engage in new planting. That digging and setting into the ground is a wonderful feeling and gardeners are itching to get to it. BUT – remember the ground is much colder than the air and that cold ground will cause roots to crimp and wither. Roots like it warm and moist. So, to satisfy your April yearnings, here is what you can do.
First, If you have purchased anything to plant now – in April – keep it well watered (like really well watered) and set it someplace safe – in a shed, a garage or set up on a table and covered every night with a few layers of newspaper or a tablecloth. You can set these new plantings out in the sun during the day, but they need protection at night.
In the meantime, you can dig the holes readying the soil for planting. Always dig a hole much bigger than what you think you need. You should dig a hole about 1-2 times the size of the container your new plant is set in. I am not talking about trees but small plants and bushes and small shrubs. Fill the hole with water and let it rest for about a week. Put dead matter in it, coffee grinds, old leaves (not oak) compost, vegetable matter. Fill it with water again, and let it sit. It will warm up the soil faster and will oxidize the hole. Be sure to cover the hole at night so nobody – like, say you – falls into it. I leave my wheelbarrow straddled over the hole. Leave it for about two weeks and the soil should be warm and ready for small shrubs, bushes and perennials. Be ware of frost – be prepared to protect perennials every night well into May. The same rule for annuals (which are more or less a waste of money so resist and invest in perennials)
This mid-April time is also very good for Garden Staring (see previous blog) Garden Staring is fundamental to good gardening. It is vital to garden planning and critical to garden loving. Now in early Spring, when most of your plants are very small and short, you can see the shape of your garden more clearly. You can make plans for moving things and trimming other things. Garden Staring is a perfectly acceptable activity. Do not let any slob tell you that you are wasting time. If somebody suggests such an outlandish thing, tell them to go away. Now.