Good Tuesday ya’ll, and happy Spring! April is one of my favorite times to be a homesteader. The days get longer, nights get warmer, birds start singing and the cicadas begin to hum from the depths of the woods. It’s a great time to be outside, and what better excuse to get on out there than some garden plantings! Read on for the first of a few vegetables great for planting in April (bear in mind, I am in gardening zone 6a. Adjust your timetable for where you live as necessary).
Beets! Who doesn’t love a good beet. Beets can go in damn near anytime, but I love planting them in April, right after the last frost. Work some 5-10-5 fertilizer into the soil before sowing to cut down on the woody taste, and make them juicer. Make your furrows about a half-inch deep, six inches apart, and leave an inch of space between each seed. Keep these beets well-watered, as that will further contribute to a fuller flavor.
With Easter over, and the Easter bunny back in hibernation until he sees his shadow next year (that’s how it works, right?), it’s now time to plant one of my favorite veggies–particularly when consumed raw with some oil and vinegar. Carrots come in several forms, but for most home gardens, you’re going to want what’s known as Half-Longs. Blunter and stumpier than store-bought varieties, they don’t require quite as soft a soil as their shelf-dwelling counterparts, but taste about the same in my book.
Dig the soil over to about 8-inches, removing any big rocks as you do. Work the usual 5-10-5 fertilizer into the top half of the turned-over soil (roughly a pound per 20 square feet). Be careful to not overly compact the soil as you step between the rows–carrots love soft soils. Some diehard gardeners even put boards in between the rows to use as walkways for the entire season. Push your seeds into the turned-over soil; about a half-inch deep, spaced about a half-inch apart.
You won’t see carrots for about three weeks, but there will be weeds (unless you’ve constructed some handy-dandy raised garden beds). Some folks sow a quicker-sprouting plant like radishes alongside the carrots to identify the carrot rows, so they don’t accidentally weed the carrots. This is a good plan if you want radishes (which will be ripe about after the first carrots break through the topsoil), put if not, I just push popsicle sticks in alongside to designate my rows.
While it won’t be warm enough outside (at least in my zone) to plant cucumbers outdoors in April, it’s a good idea to start them indoors in peat pots this month. This can improve quick growth, as maturity should be targeted in about 10-weeks. Sow two seeds a half-inch deep in a pot, keep the soil moist, and place them somewhere in your home that stays around 70-degrees. You should see sprouts in about 5 days. When May rolls round take them outside, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
That’s about all the room we have for this week folks, but these are just the first few plants to tackle. Tune in again next week for several more varieties.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”