We still have at least another six weeks before our last frost date in late May, early June. Be cautious about late freezes and snowstorms. We still have plenty of time to continue starting seeds indoors. Transplants will be ready to set out in six to eight weeks. If you have the seedlings under artificial light tubes, keep the lights no more than an inch or two above the tops of the seedlings. Make sure you allow the seedlings time to rest 6 to 8 hours at night. Click on the map at right to find your zone.
Annuals and Perennials
Sow seeds of frost tolerant perennials indoors and transplant a couple of weeks before the last frost.
Sow seeds of hardy perennials outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked.
Divide and replant summer and fall-blooming perennials when the soil is workable.
Use a slow release fertilizer on spring bulbs in late April or early May.
Order summer flowering bulbs (canna, calla, dahlia, elephant ears, gladiolus).
Continue to check your stored bulbs, roots and tubers. Discard any unhealthy plant material.
Most young garden weeds can be pulled out easily when the soil is wet. Make sure to get the root up. Use a forked tool to pry out dandelions and other weeds with long tap roots.
Spade or till garden beds as soon as the soil is workable and add compost. In beds where you put in compost last fall, don’t disturb the balance of the soil by tilling. Use a garden fork or a hoe to break up the surface for planting.
Never use a tiller in soil infested with chickweeds, quack grass, or other weeds that will spread from small pieces of root left in the ground.
To sprout your seed potatoes, move them from cold storage into room temperature. Plant as soon as the soil is workable and dry enough to plant. Dig a trench a few inches deep, place the seed potatoes in it and cover with two inches of soil. As the leaves grow up through the soil, continue to mound up soil or mulch around the plants leaving only the top two leaves showing. Do this two or three times. New potatoes will be ready to dig after the plants bloom. Leave tubers in the ground for larger potatoes.
Frost tolerant plants such as cabbage, kale and broccoli may be transplanted outdoors after the heavy frosts have passed. They can tolerate temperatures down to about 28 degrees F.
Remember that raised beds warm up faster in the spring, especially if covered for a few sunny days with black or clear plastic.
Lawns, Trees and Shrubs
Feed evergreens, fruit trees, shrubs, and lawns at the end of the April or early May.
When the snow melts, lightly rake away winter mulch. This will help the soil to warm up. Add mulch to the compost pile to be used later.
Apply dormant spray to trees and shrubs before they leaf out. Do this on a day when it is not windy.
By the end of the month, unwrap protected shrubs and trees.
Water thoroughly all beds and turf that have been exposed to heavy salting during the winter to flush away the salt.
Grass in snow image: Flickr/algoreen