April is the “opener” of spring. Grass greens up, trees leaf out, shrubs begin to bloom, perennials come back, and the birds continue to sing. This is truly my favorite time of year, the time of rebirth! The seasons move so fast, this is one that you really need to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and enjoy every day.
Now pay attention to the birds singing early in the mornings and their increased activity, which leads way to courting, nesting, and soon to be, new fledglings. Therefore, I encourage you to continue feeding our feathered friends during this important time and enjoy the antics that lie ahead. I would also like to remind you that these little birds do eat many insects, which is a great benefit for your yard and garden. You should already have your purple martin houses up and filled, and now it is time to hang up the hummingbird feeders. You can make your own nectar using four parts water to 1 part sugar (1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water). You can start with slightly more sugar in the mix to attract the hummingbirds, and then go back to the 4 to 1 mixture once the hummingbirds are frequenting your feeders. Boil together the mixture to dissolve the sugar, fill your feeders and enjoy. Change out the liquid frequently as hummingbirds are very fragile and our summer heat can quickly ferment the sugar mixture. Clean the feeder in between each filling.
One of the bigger movements continuing across the country this year is “Protecting the Pollinators.” Last year a huge push to “Save the Monarch Butterfly” was seen everywhere. A few years ago, the Honey Bee had been known as declining. Well, the decline of these most important Pollinators is still a strong concern. Therefore, we need to make ourselves aware of the push to save ALL pollinators. We can help with this push by being aware of your surroundings and eliminating the use of synthetic insecticide products, especially on blooming plants that are visited by pollinators. It you have an insect issue, talk to a representative at your local garden center about methods of controlling pests without harming pollinators. Our food supply depends on it.
There is so much to talk about in April, I have made a short list of some of the more common, timely items that will need attention or guide you as we begin this most wonderful season of Spring!
- When Crabapples are in bloom, hardy annuals can be planted.
- Liquid weed control should be applied this month to control dandelions, henbit and other broadleaf weeds. New grass from seed MUST be mowed 3 times to make it strong enough to withstand weed chemicals.
- Prune spring flowering shrubs after they finish blooming.
- Start cucumber, squash, cantaloupe and watermelon seeds indoors this month.
- Termites begin swarming. Termites can be distinguished from ants by their thick waists and straight antennae.
- Mole young are born in chambers deep underground.
- The last week of April is a good time to try an early sowing of warm season crops such as green beans, sweet corn, etc. Transplants of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and sweet potatoes can also start being planted outdoors.
- Container gardening is good choice for flower and vegetable gardening if space is in short supply. It can be done by anyone, anywhere, check it out!!
- “Natural Gardening” is here to stay………..keep your family safe and check out what organic/natural options are available to you when gardening this year. There are many. Well, time is running short…see you in the garden
Sandi Hillermann McDonald