Monthly Garden Calendar for Southwest United States

Organic Gardening Month-to-Month Almanac

By John Dromgoole

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APRIL

One of the great gardening months is upon us. Wildflowers have gone wild and Bluebonnets dominate the flower display in our area. If you work where you don't see your garden all day, you can grow a night garden. We like nicotiana (flowering tobacco), especially 'Aztec,' an all white, fragrant flower that greets us with its intoxicating fragrance. To accompany this plant we have night blooming datura 'Angels' Trumpet' and the moonflower vine.

Planting Time. Sow corn, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, okra, peanuts, sweet potatoes (try 'Jewel') and climbing malabar spinach now. Plant tomatoes that will set fruit in the heat - these include 'Sweet 100' cherry tomato and 'Heat Wave' slicing tomato.

Wonderful Watermelon. Watermelons should be planted now for summer harvest. Small 'Sugar Baby' and fun heirloom 'Moon & Stars' are great for family gardens. Larger gardens can handle the space taker 'Charleston.'

Peas and Beans. The late spring/early summer garden starts now with plantings of black-eyed peas, purple hull and crowder peas. Consider growing black beans, such as 'Black Coco,' which can be eaten as a snap bean, shelling bean or dried bean. They thrive in dry years.

Lawn Care. Early in the month, feed your lawn with a slow-release organic lawn fertilizer. And make sure to leave the clippings where they land. They can provide up to 50 percent of your lawn's nitrogen needs.

Want a Colorful Screen For Your Garden? Plant sunflowers and candlestick plants, which grow more than 6 feet high. Or try the vining purple hyacinth bean—its lavender flower sprays and shiny purple seedpods that persist until frost will quickly cover the side of a house or a fence.

Look Out for Herbs. A new herb garden could use some rosemary, thyme (lemon, too) salad burnet, sage, marjoram, and mints. Be careful when planting mint as it spreads easily throughout the garden. Basil selections are quite varied these days but we still stick with the sweet basil and lemon basil as our main plantings.

Fertilize Wisely. I mix two tablespoons of liquid fish fertilizer with 1 tablespoon of seaweed, 1 tablespoon of Black Strap molasses, and an optional cup of compost tea in 1 gallon of water. I'll use this as a foliar feed and as a soil drench.

Remove Excess Fruit From Your Trees. Peaches especially need to be thinned in order to be more productive. I thin them to about 4 or 5 inches apart. I'd rather have 1.5 bushels of good peaches than 4 bushels of small, hard, green ones.

Mucho Mulch. Replace mulches around trees, shrubs and anything else that will benefit from a cooler soil. First apply a layer of compost to feed the soil, then the mulch.

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