April: Monthly Review

Quite a difference from March’s end!

April is finished! I know many people thought the month would never end, but to me it passed at warp speed. It was a pretty good month for outdoor work, although it was the coldest April in decades. The rainfall was nearly 2″ below average, so as opposed to last year the surrounding farms are well underway with corn planting since the fields were dry. As you can see, the potager’s beds are filling nicely and I am already worrying about lack of space. The increase from two to five strawberry beds has made a difference, even though there’s intentionally less garlic than past years. Speaking of garlic, it’s enjoyed the cooler weather and is thickening up nicely since receiving it’s dressing of compost.

As you know, I’m a terrible fava bean grower and it appear this is yet another year that I didn’t come close to getting it right, or as right as it can be here in central Indiana, which is not exactly like the places favas enjoy growing. But, there hopefully will be at least a taste since they are blooming.

Even more dwarf than “Robin Hood” favas are supposed to be (sigh!)

And yes, you keen-eyed readers, the dill seedlings are still there amid the slowly emerging peas. Several have been harvested, but many will be moved in small clumps to the potager’s interior border. Surprisingly, there are very few dill seedlings where they are supposed to be, and LOTS where I don’t want them. But I’ve already seen a couple of beautiful swallowtails checking them out, so I almost hate to disturb them for fear of spoiling eggs.

“Katarina” cabbage babies.

Weather has also been good for setting out the brassicas. About the same number of cabbages are being planted as prior years, but less broccoli and aspabroc. We just don’t eat it as often, so there’s still lots in the freezer. The overwintered spinach is still going “Gangbusters.” The leaves are just huge, but still tender and tasty. I’ve been perusing the cookbooks for various spinach salad combinations. I’ve started giving some away, because it’s shading the peas and baby lettuces.

Spinach “Gangbuster” from Renee’s Garden Seeds.
The rhubarb is finally, slowly growing.

Maybe it’s the “watched pot” syndrome, but the rhubarb just seems to be almost standing still. As eager as I am to harvest some, I’d like it to get more size. We did get a handful from the young asparagus patch this year, but I won’t pick any more. Next year should be better. Meanwhile, the first radishes are ready to harvest, and we’ve had kale and bunching onions that overwintered.

“French Breakfast” radishes are ready to pull.
Will it be enough?

After losing nearly all the strawberry crop to raccoons last year, I’m starting earlier to install protection. This year, I’m trying a framework of pea fence, which will get bird netting over it just as soon as berries start forming. Last year the coons even ate the white ones before even a hint of ripening! I’m hoping it will be sturdier than the bamboo pole mini-tents were last year. We’ll see!

“Candy” onions, “Tom Thumb” lettuce and parsley.

This year, the potager beds are being planted in rows or bands running north/south. Some year’s I’ve gotten fancy with triangles or checkerboards, but this year it’s just simplicity for production. The only variation are solid beds of strawberries, and two of the 6×6 beds that will have 5 tomato cages each, with succession fill-in crops between the cages. Here’s the potager’s exterior border, loaded with tulips!

The tulips are making up for the finished daffodils that stole the show in earlier weeks.
The Front Garden tulips are at their peak, and a few “Delnashaugh” daffodils still add touches of white.

I really should spend part of this isolation period learning to be a better photographer. I didn’t come close to capturing the brilliant oranges in the tulips. They look washed-out here, but they have been glorious and long-lasting. The short purple irises just began opening on April 30. They are some of my favorites, so durable and fast-spreading. The “Tang Dynasty” in the Deck Garden have nearly finished, but these little yellow species tulips return each year. This spring, the “Angelina” sedum has spread, so now it and the tulips are working together!

Species tulip with “Angelina” sedum.
Tiny seedlings in the greenhouse are waiting for warmer soil outdoors.

Time for some numbers. The total varieties seeded indoors in April was 31, bringing the year’s total to 127. Varieties directly seeded outdoors was

Total transplants indoors for April was 1008, with the 2020 total to month’s end at only 2680, a far cry from usual but as I’ve said in earlier posts, I’m transitioning from lots of annuals to more perennials. And, with no garden club plant sales I haven’t been very motivated. There are lots of seedlings still in starter flats that just may not get transplanted this year. That goes against my natural instinct of “waste not, want not” but there’s only so much space….

Outdoors, 28 different varieties have been seeded or planted into the potager. That’s a couple less than last year, mainly because only 2 varieties of peas have been sown so far. I wait until each sowing is at least 2-3″ tall before starting the next seeding, and with the cold weather they’ve been slow. I haven’t done any planting into the flower gardens, other than a bit of dividing daffodil clumps and a few daylilies to move around.

Harvest total for April was 6.5 lbs. (spinach, kale, bunching onions, parsley, dill, chives, radicchio, dandelions, asparagus) which was a bit over last year’s 5.25, so I’m pleased. The May totals should be much better, if I can keep the raccoons out!

Hope you take a few moments to review the past month. Yes, there are many frustrating things during this strange period, but Mother Nature is putting on her usual spectacular show, and seems to be offering a good growing season to help compensate for some of the other troubles. Stay safe, stay at home, and keep gardening!

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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11 Responses to April: Monthly Review

  1. That spinach looks absolutely delicious !

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  2. Lovely flowers! Everything else looks great, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lauren says:

    I love your taste in orange flowers- I’ve run across people who don’t like orange flowers and it boggles the mind as they’re some of my favorites! And that spinach leaf- wow!

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    • carolee says:

      Early on in my gardening life, I did the pink-white-purples palette that was so popular, because it was “safe.” NOW I just do what I want, and that’s ORANGES of all shades and tones with just enough purple/blue, white and gold to blend it all together. Some people say it’s not soothing, and maybe it’s not, but “soothing” is not what I’m looking for. If I want soothing I can look at the sky or the trees. I want the gardens to make me smile and feel alive, and they DO! Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nigel | MCR says:

    Wow thats some impressive spinach

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    • carolee says:

      Actually, the leaves got even bigger, some measuring 12″ long and 9″ wide! And still tender and tasty. I’ve never grown anything like it…must be the compost is extra good this year, and the weather perfect for spinach.

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  5. Thank you for stopping by my blog! You’ve definitely got an amazing garden going! It’s always interesting to see where people are at the same time in different areas of the country. We just moved from Portland to the Oregon coast a couple of years ago and are amazed at how everything here is several weeks behind what it was inland. Radishes crack me up because I always plant daikon seeds every year and always end up letting them go to flower which I guess you’re not supposed to do but the bees love them so much and they are like 3 ft tall!

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    • Oh yeah and deer will eat any tulips where we live unless they are in pots right against the house so that was pretty traumatizing not to be able to put them everywhere on the property. We haven’t had any problem with raccoons but of course we protect our beds from our chickens as if they were raccoons!! (Bird netting clamped over PVC hoops)

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  6. Shannon McKinnon says:

    I too always went with softer colours but last year embraced lots of orange and purple and I quite like it! Your garden is gorgeous. Good luck with the raccoons.

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