We’re half way through April and we’re finally getting some warm, dry days. This weekend promises to be spectacular with temperatures in the high 60s and sunny. So, let the garden clean-up begin!
Slated for this weekend and next:
- Weed and edge the raspberry beds. I was remiss in my weeding of these beds towards the end of last summer and I’m paying the price – lots of grass has moved in and is smothering my precious raspberries.
- Weed, edge and feed the blueberries. My brother dug a 6” x 6” trench around each bed, which we will layer with cardboard and fill with straw. I jokingly refer to it as the Canal, since as he was digging it was filling with water (our water table was so high from snow melt and rains). Thankfully the water has since receded. This is what happens when you tell a guy “do a little edging around the blueberries to keep the grass at bay” and then leave him to his own devices. 🙂
- Broadcast seed in the sheep pasture. I’ve been slowly trying to improve the grass selection for the sheep over the past couple of years by annually spreading a northeast grass mix from Nature’s Seed. It’s a mix of Kentucky Bluegrass, Orchardgrass, perennial Ryegrass, White Clover, Birdsfoot Trefoil, and Chicory blended specifically to provide nutrition for sheep. They love it!
- Pick up new roses and black currants from Old Market Farm and plant. I ordered 4 additional currant bushes (I have 2 that Rich and Vanessa, owners of Old Market Farm, gave to me to try last year). The 2 are residing in my vegetable garden/potager, but will need more elbow room as they grow. I’m not entirely sure where I want to locate all 6 bushes, but it will be somewhere in the orchard. For roses, I’m adding a Hippolyte (purple), a Benjamin Britten (red), and two Madam Hardy (white). Getting these in the ground where I want them is going to require some relocating of other plants, and possibly the creation of a new bed. We’ll see.
- Spring cleaning in the chicken coop. I cleaned out the duck coop a couple of weeks ago. I allow the bedding to build up in the coops over winter since it creates extra heat inside as the straw and hay decomposes with the manure. It’s unpleasant to clean come spring, but the deep bedding adds an additional 10 degrees or so of heat to the coops. In winters where our lows can reach -30 degrees, every degree of warmth helps. We also piles hay bales up against the outside walls of the coop to act as an added barrier to prevent the heat from escaping. The bales are removed in the spring and are usually added to the compost piles. This year, I have a couple of areas where I want to start building up the soil for future plantings, so I’m going to start layering with the spent hay and then toss on grass clippings, etc throughout the season.
- Cut back perennials from last year and start cleaning up mixed borders. Since I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 or so separate mixed borders (some as long as 60’), this is no small undertaking. Thankfully I knocked out a few of them at the end of March when we had some decent weather. But I still have a fair amount of cleaning up to do – edging, cutting back and topping with compost. I’ll probably do a little broadcasting of forget-me-not, poppy and hollyhock seeds in select beds as well.
- Muck out the sheep barn. Another joyous and smelly job! I also use the deep bedding method in the sheep barn, although the 3 dumplings can withstand some pretty severe cold temps with their 4+ inches of wool. It’s very heavy work hauling out wheel barrow after wheel barrow of soiled straw, but it will make wonderful compost and mulch by next year!
- Sow my 3-4 week seeds inside. I’ll sow another 100 cells, and pot out some of the other seedlings that have been growing for the past couple of weeks. Everyone is looking healthy and happy in the “nursery.”
- Sow the cold crops in the potager. This will include the first planting of carrots, beets, lettuces and peas.
I always feel exhausted after creating the April to-do list. But I try to take it one job at a time, and just savor being outside in the garden once again. It’s always wondrous to see the new life pushing it’s way out of the ground.