April | Garden In Full Swing

April | Garden In Full Swing

May 02, 2020

We are in full swing! The weather has been beautiful and the harvest time is just beginning.

Photography By Kelly Savoca 
  
This month I took some time to check in on our houseplants. It’s always good practice to check in every quarter and see what plants might need a little love. I’ve monitored our Ranunculus, planted a mini meadow, and finished our raised beds as well.  
  
Since our beds are finally complete we were able to transplant our first seedlings! Normally, we would have started a little earlier but either way, we are excited to have this dedicated space. Let’s get to it, this is what we worked on in April:

April 

Root Pruning a Silver Bay Chinese Evergreen  
I’ve had this plant forever. If you are looking for a houseplant that can truly stand the test of time this is it!  
 
Over the years it has gotten a bit leggy. Areas, where I had trimmed old stems, were still in the pot. This combined with old soil, the plant was looking a bit faded and lifeless. The roots of this plant are rhizomes. They grow horizontally and from there will bring up new shoots. To clean it up properly I needed to look to the roots. Here’s what I did to bring it back to life: 
  
1 | Removed the plant gently from the pot and shook off any excess soil.
 
2 | From here I looked for areas where I had cut the stems previously (where it was no longer growing). Using a pair of clippers, I cut off the dead stem roots.  
   

The goal is to maintain as much of the healthy root as possible – not trimming excessively. Do this anywhere you see dead stems. See below, the white is where I cut off an old stem root.3 | Once I had my new bundle of healthy plants I filled up the planter about ¾ of the way with soil.

4 | I positioned the healthy plants back into the soil. You can gently nestle them in the way you’d like them to look in the pot.   

5 | Finish by filling in with more soil so the plants will stand straight. 

6 | Give it a good watering!

My plant is so much healthier now and the leaves are a saturated green – the way they should be!

 

Meadow Seed Mix
Planting a Mini Meadow
Who doesn’t love flowers? I have a very small side bed next to our deck that I wanted to fill in. My thought was to use some perennials so that I won’t have to maintain it as much every year. Ideally, you want to wait to plant a meadow until the soil temperature is about 70 degrees or at about the same time you plant your tomatoes.
 
I was a bit excited to start this project so jumped the gun a bit but I’ll likely fill in as needed. I was lucky enough to have a variety of seeds gifted to me so I made a meadow mix. This is so easy. Definitely give it a shot. See my steps below:
    
1 | Measured the bed size. Again, you can walk this or use a measuring tape.
Width x Depth. Mine was only 9.375 sq. ft. ⁠  
 
2 | A general recommendation is to use about ¼ lb. seed per 250-500 sq. ft. Since I wanted to be sure flowers were filled in everywhere I went with the 250-sq. ft. as my guide.
 

Fun Garden Math:

Bed Size: 7.5 ft. x 1.25 ft. = 9.375 sq. ft. 
Square Foot Coverage: 9.375 sq. ft. / 250 sq. ft. = 26   
Seed Guide: 4 oz. = ¼ lb.
Seed Amount for My Bed Size: 4 oz. / 26 = .15 oz.
 
This won’t seem like much seed at first. Once you weigh it you’ll realize just how lightweight the seed is. It ended up being a nice amount of seed (the picture above this section).
 
3 | Made & weighed my meadow mix. Using a small scale and a Pyrex measuring cup I added in seeds until I hit the .15 oz. If you prefer more perennials to annuals you could do more math to sort out the percentage.  
 
These were the seeds I had on hand:  
 
Annuals: Orange, Red, & Yellow Marigolds, French Marigolds
Perennials: Coneflower, Red & Yellow Blanket Flower, Coreopsis, Tall Bunch Grass, Snapdragon (tender perennial), Salvia, Lavender, & Wildflower Mix (most likely a combination of annual & perennial)
 

4 | Prepared the bed. In the winter, I added a light layer of compost and weeded. Since then some weeds had returned so I weeded again and loosened up my soil. Using a cultivator, I raked about 1” into the soil so that it wasn’t as compact. Below is a before & after.

Flower Bed Before Weeding     Flower Bed After Weeding

5 | Hand threw my seed into the patch. If you are doing a larger patch of land it is sometimes recommended to mix your seeds with sand as this will allow you to see how much seed you are throwing and will make sure small and large seeds fall evenly but since my patch was so small I did without the sand.

6 | Lastly, taking a piece of cardboard and working my way around existing Dianthus I pressed the seeds into the soil. This is the fun part! You don’t even have to bury them like other seeds. Wait 60-90 days and keep in mind some perennials may not bloom until the second year.

Pressing Meadow Seeds Into Soil

 *Pro-tip – Do not do this the day before a heavy downpour. Since my bed was on a slight angle and due to the amount of rain the area flooded a bit and the seeds shifted. It’s ok if it rains the next day just beware of a big storm that might carry your seeds elsewhere.

Frost Cover  
We had a few cold nights in the middle of the month which was right at the time our last frost date was set to occur. Since I planted Ranunculus I took two layers of burlap to cover the small bed they were in. I used a couple of metal stakes to push through the burlap and soil to keep it in place. That’s it!
 
Finished Raised Cedar Beds  

This was such a large and exciting project that I will be dedicating an entire blog post to this. Check out the first post from March and stay tuned in a few weeks when I share it all, including prices!

Raised Cedar Garden Beds

Fertilized & Mulched Trees
Spring is the perfect time to do this! Our magnolia tree took a downward turn this year. To help it recover we decided to buy fertilizer. The same goes for our peach trees. In the past, we have been unsuccessful in getting quality fruit off of the tree. We implemented a few different tactics this year including an insecticide which I would normally try to avoid.
 

Trees, in general, will do better with a quality mulch at the base rather than grass sucking up all the nutrients. We removed grass a few feet from the base. You can go 2-3x the size of this but for now, we stuck with this due to a drainage pipe near the base of one of our trees. I have no idea why this was placed here but that is where it was when we bought our home. 

Be sure to leave a donut of bare ground (without mulch) right near the base of the tree. This is a common mistake. You don't want to smother it and attract more pests.

Tree Mulching     Tree Fertilizer Spikes 

I purchased two types of fertilizer in spike form. It was recommended to use a 17-17-17 for the magnolia but the best I could find was 15-5-10 so I decided to give it a shot. For the magnolia tree, we used this fertilizer & for the peach tree, we used this fertilizer.
 
Check out the process on my Instagram Spring highlights HERE.
 
Lastly, for our peach tree only we added an insecticide at the base. In the past, we have dealt with various pests sucking on the fruit which then leaves the peaches oozing or falling off way too soon. Sure, it’s ok if some fall off but you want the remaining fruit to grow the full size. Ours never did even after natural attempts to keep pest off thus why we had to try something else.  
 
So far, I can say the fruit is looking healthy and I hope it stays that way! Next, we will add some netting to one of the trees and leave the other without so we can see which tree will do better. This way next year we can decide if we need the insecticide or if it is possible to only use the netting or if we need both. Fingers crossed!
 
Transplanted Spring Seedlings & Started Summer Seedlings  
My seedlings were 4 & 5 weeks old when I transplanted. Take a look at my IGTV video to learn how I laid out my first bed of lettuce, kale, bok choy, swiss chard, edible flowers & pole beans. I shared why I placed some items at the back vs. the front of the bed depending on the sun.
   
We would have started sooner but we waited until our beds were ready to transplant. It’s been exciting to finally get them in the ground.
   
Summer Seeds Started:
Honey Drop Tomato 
Purple Cherokee Tomato
 Mikado Tomato 
Teddy Bear Sunflower
 Velvet Queen Sunflower
 Skyscraper Sunflower
 Shishito Pepper 
Marketmore Cucumber  
Kaleidoscope Carrots  
Green Wave Mustard  
Snowball Cauliflower
 
The last three would have fared well in the Spring too but I got a bit of a late start on them.
 

Looking to May

Planting Sweet Potatoes
We finally got our “Bunch” Porto Ricos transplants so we will get these planted into a large container. Sweet potatoes start later than the white variety of potatoes so we are right on track to get them started.
 
Peony in Bloom
About now in Zone 7a, you should see your peony buds starting to crack open. If you are a bit more north you’ll probably have to wait a bit longer. I love seeing these blooms!
 
Transplanting Summer Seedlings

When seeds first sprout they show their seed leaves. Once you see the true leaves then you’ll know they are ready to transplant. How will you know the difference? The true leaves look like the actual plant whereas seed leaves generally look round and generic. See where I circled below.

True Leaves of Seedlings

I’ll be hardening our seedlings by giving them a few hours of sunlight to get used to the outdoors before fully planting outside. This will help them get used to their new environment.

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