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April Means Gardening

April 1, 2013 – I was going to try to force myself to write about the new EPA emissions rules, but I just can’t get my mind off gardening.  It’s April – tra la!  Warm weather simply has to show up soon – hurrah!  Eager young sprouts will magically burst forth from the earth, which will get on with her business of sustaining life - in spite of us.  Better to work with her, on the side of life.  The glories to be savored are endless.  And as usual, there’s plenty to be done!
April is clean-up time, first and foremost.  Trimming, pruning, pulling early weeds.  My husband left the grass way too long last fall, and I’m getting the distinct impression he thinks we should go ahead and fertilize, without cutting away the thatch first.  A word about my husband: he hates yard work.  A word about fertilizing: I use an integrated pest management approach.  Two years out of three, I use organic methods that encourage green grass and hinder weed survival.  By the third year, the weeds are winning, so I break down and use a chemical weed-and-feed.  This happens to be a third year.

Next, April is seed-starting time.  I indulge in those seed-starting kits you find at Wal-Mart, with the peat pellets and the clear plastic lid.  Yesterday, I planted three kinds of tomatoes, oregano and borage.  I’m soaking some nasturtium seeds, which I’ll plant tonight.  I’ve never tried growing nasturtium indoors, so I’m very curious to see how it goes.  (As you may know, nasturtium seeds are so big and hard that they need a boost in getting started.  I nick mine with a knife, and then soak them overnight in water.  They germinate more reliably when I take the time to help them along.)
I’m not starting any Roma tomatoes (the kind you make tomato sauce with); I’ll buy them at the school garden sale in June.  It’s supposed to warm up by next week, so I’m thinking I’ll get my snow peas, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes (if they’ve arrived in the mail, by then) planted.  Onions, too.  I’m going to plant my potatoes in purchased top soil, along with oodles of organic fertilizer.  I’ll be using lots of comfrey tea this summer, as well as human urine.  I also purchase an organic vegetable fertilizer from Gardens Alive!  (There’s not really an exclamation point at the end of that sentence; the name of the company includes the exclamation point.)

At some point, I plan to plant some blueberries and raspberries.  According to the workshop I attended in February, blueberries like rich soil, preferably on the acidic side.  I need to find out what raspberries want.  The elderberry bush I moved from under a pine tree into a garden bed did a great job producing last year, but the berries tasted like grass.  I’m going to replant the bush in topsoil, into which I might toss a handful of Epsom salts; I haven’t decided yet.  My re-thought out approach to my apple and paw-paw trees will be to kill them with kindness – er, actually to GROW them with kindness.  Translated, that means endless amounts of fertilizer.  Four foot trees are just not going to produce any fruit!
That’s where things stand now.  I can’t wait to see the first traces of my tomato plants.  Now if I can just keep the cat from nibbling on them …


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