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April Gardening Chores


Daffodils bloom in March.


By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardeners


April is a busy month for gardeners.  Although there are lots of outdoor jobs, the preparation and planning for April has been ongoing since last year.  Since winter you have been prepping tools, planning what goes where in your beds, ordering seeds, sprouting, and growing transplants and finally you can get outside.  So, first some general references from Aggie Horticulture to get you started:

Spring Planting Guide for Vegetable Crops:  A one page summary of suggested planting times for common crops across Texas.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Vegetable Resources Easy Gardening Series includes gardening tips as well as vegetable and herb resources.

 

Sowing Seeds:  Almost any summer vegetable crop, from beans to squash, and many herbs can be planted by seed directly in the soil.  Follow the directions on the back of the packet and be prepared to thin the seedlings when the time comes.  Try staggering a planting of each crop two weeks apart to insure a full summer harvest.  Double check the references above if you want to know more.  Recommended herbs for West Texas are basil, dill, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme.  If you are planting dill or parsley plant extra for the Black Swallowtail so that you, too, can watch their life cycle unfold. See   https://www.westtexasgardening.org/post/a-swallowtail-tale

Transplanting Starts:  Your tomato transplants should have been started indoors at the beginning of January.  In addition to your tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, and eggplant transplants can be planted outdoors now – just be prepared to cover if necessary.  If you can, harden off the transplants by bringing them outside and introducing them to the harsher outside conditions several hours a day for a week.

Garden Chores:  Spring is a good time to add drip irrigation to existing beds or check for wear or damage by squirrels.   Cover your soil to retain soil moisture.  Add several inches of compost to amend the soil and then add 3” of mulch.  Organic mulches can help to cool the soil in summer and gradually improve soil fertility. 

Walk your Beds:  A daily walk through your yard can give you peace of mind and ward off trouble.  Check for soil moisture and plant health.  New plants need regular watering to establish deep roots. Always water at the base of the plants and not on the leaves which can create fungal problems.  Once established water deeply and less often.  In West Texas it is a good idea to keep an eye on the thermometer since a late freeze is not impossible.  If a sudden freeze comes, it is wise to cover transplants and seedlings just in case.  Conversely if we have an early and prolonged heat spell, consider getting shade cloth on your beds. 

Hand pick stray weeds before they have a chance to spread. Be on the lookout for bugs such as tomato hornworms, white flies, and leaf rollers. Remember that not all bugs are bad so enjoy your beautiful and helpful insects. 

And as always, check out the Permian Basin Master Gardening blog.  We have covered in depth many of the topics summarized here.  So, get out there and find mental and physical wonder in your garden.

If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.   Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org.  Click on “Resources”.


Be sure tools are ready for spring.

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