Join Valerie in her Coos Bay garden during the month of April, learn about container gardening, hardening off, tips, and gardening lore from the southern Oregon coast.
Winter has played a waiting game, and I look forward to April, the month when we can actually begin to get out into the garden again. April is the month when color begins to return to the landscape. Sunshine spills from daffodils as they cascade like cavorting children across lawns and banks, deep cobalt blue blankets of violets lay carelessly tossed along field and meadow, and flowering trees begin to brighten up the landscape. Every time we leave the house, we search hungrily for color after the long wet green of an Oregon Winter.
Don’t be fooled by the warmth of an April day into planting those starts you have been nurturing indoors. You must harden them off for a week or ten days. This means taking them outside in the morning to be placed in the shade, (direct sunlight will knock them on their heels) then don’t forget to bring them back into the house or greenhouse in the evening before the night chill sets in . If you have an unheated porch, gradually introduce them to cooler temperatures by moving them out there for a couple of weeks prior to their final trek into the garden. This will give your plants a chance to adapt to the temperature changes they will have to endure upon planting out in a late April or early May.
One of the most important things you can do, no matter what size your yard or garden, is to plot out the path of the sun during each season in order to identify the unique micro-climates of your own patch. From this planning you will be able to make the most appropriate use of warm spots in winter, and cool shady spots during the long hot summer. By keeping an eye on the sun’s travel, you won’t make the mistake of planting your tomatoes in a spot which is shaded by a large tree until noon in spring, but has all day sun in late summer. This site mapping will also enable you to situate those plants that like wet feet in boggier ground and to give those that like dry sandy soil the best shot.
Don’t have a garden spot? Then try container gardening. Even a small patio or front door area can produce a nice crop of tomatoes, cucumbers or herbs by choosing the right size plant for the right size container. New this season to Park Seed is the variety “Choice VFF Hybrid Tomato,” a compact bush perfect for container gardening . You might try Jingle Bells mini bell peppers, Tom Thumb lettuce, bush beans, and Sunburst Golden summer squash. Plant an herb garden in a clay strawberry pot, using basil, thyme, chives , oregano, nasturtiums, borage or sage, starting at the bottom with the smallest plants, and placing the sage and borage in the top. Hanging baskets (preferably the wire kind lined with moss) are perfect for planting strawberries. A simple whiskey barrel container can provide salad fixings throughout the season with sprigs of fragrant parsley, two or three miniature buttery Bibb type lettuces, baby carrots, chives, garlic, onions, oregano, and basil. Try a fragrant pineapple sage for its unique flavor. Top it off with calendula, or scented geraniums for a splash of color. Graze the container garden, snipping off just what you need for today’s dinner, leaving the rest to grow on for another day.
Published in: Gardening