What to do in your garden in April


Annuals. Nurseries offer cool-season color (calendula, English daisy, pansy, snapdragon, stock, sweet alyssum, viola), as well as summer annuals (impatiens, marigolds, petunias, portulaca, zinnias).

Cool-season vegetables. Set out transplants of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, and spinach. Sow seeds of carrots, peas, and radishes directly in the ground, and set out seed potatoes.

Fruits. Sunset climate zones 1-3: Bare-root plants are available at nurseries and garden centers. Set out blackberries, raspberries, and their kin; grapes; hardy kiwis; strawberries; and tree fruits.

Herbs. Set out chives, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme right away, but wait until danger of frost has passed to sow basil and cilantro.

Lawns. Zones 1-3: Once snow melts and soil thaws, start lawns from sod or seed. Zones 4-7: Start lawns from sod or seed any time. But before you start a lawn, take into consideration the long-term irrigation needs of grass. Last year in Oregon and Washington, there wasn’t a single month during grass-growing season (between February and October) when enough rain fell to sustain healthy turf. Most lawn grasses need at least 1 inch of water a week during the warmer months.

Perennials. Shop nurseries for basket-of-gold, bleeding heart, columbine, rockcress, sweet woodruff, and wallflower. Plant immediately.

Summer veggies. In a coldframe or greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill, start seeds of corn, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, and tomatoes now. Seedlings will be ready for transplanting into the garden in four to six weeks.

Wasabi. Zones 5 and 17: If you enjoy eating this condiment with sushi, try growing your own. Buy seeds or seedlings from Pacific Farms ( www.freshwasabi.com or 800/927-2248). Wasabi needs cool shade and moist soil in summer, and frost-free winters. The whole plant is edible, but the paste is made from two-year-old, carrot-size rhizomes.


Repot houseplants. A well-known supplier of garden products is promoting April 3 as National Repot Your Plant Day ( www.miraclegro.com). Marketing aside, it’s actually a good thing to do once a year. Just knock plants out of their pots, then rough up the rootball with a knife and strip off coiled roots. Replant in a slightly larger container filled with fresh potting soil. Water well, and feed after two weeks with a liquid fertilizer; you should see new growth almost immediately.