Monthly Garden Calendar for Pacific Coast North United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By Amy Stewart

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APRIL

This spring, I'm making a shift in my approach to the garden: I'm going to accept the climate I have, rather than fight it. What does that mean? It means I'll plant what works and let the farmer's market supply me with the rest.

I'm too close to the ocean to grow beefy heirloom tomatoes. Sure, I'll plant a cherry tomato like Sungold or Peacevine, but even they will need a little extra pampering: this year I'm going to try these generously-proportioned

Weed, Weed, Weed. Now is the time to get on top of young weed seedlings before they take over.

Planting Time. In warmer parts of Zone 9, plant tomatoes, peppers, and other heat-loving vegetables. (The rest of us should wait another month.)

Bulb Tip. After spring bulbs bloom, let the leaves wither on the plant. It will help next year's flowers to form. Catmint (Nepeta faassenii) blooms all summer and hides fading bulb foliage; you can now find it in blue, pink, and white.

Go Wild With Summer Flowers. Now is the time to plant larkspur, cosmos, bachelor button, marigold, and sunflowers. If you are still prone to chilly, windy days this time of year, consider floating row covers or plastic cloches to keep the chill off. I also use plastic soda bottles with the bottoms cut off to protect tender seedlings this time of year.

Get Ready to Prune. Prune hydrangeas and fuchsias after they stop blooming.

Fruit Thinning. If your fruit trees are developing fruit right now, thin the fruit when it is about as big around as a marble. This will encourage larger fruit and a better harvest in the fall.

Mix It Up. Turn the compost pile and see what you've got after a winter of adding kitchen scraps and fallen leaves. There should be some dark, crumbly compost in the pile to add to young vegetable seedlings or to side-dress shrubs just coming into bloom.

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