For us in Georgia, April is one of the busiest and most exciting months. The beautiful spring blooms are busting out across the landscape. The first leaves begin to unfurl on the trees, and shrubs and gardens everywhere come to life. Seriously, Kristyn and I are always pointing out the colors of spring to each another.
We do our best to keep things growing year round, but April is when it finally feels like gardening season has begun. When April rolls in, I always know it’s time to get ready to go crazy planting. Those empty garden beds will be overflowing soon enough. These April garden chores will help you keep your southern garden on track.
Keep in mind that we are in the fairly mild climate sitting on the border of 7b and 8a. We get some freezing weather but nothing compared to more northern climates.
April is the month of planting:
prepare your seedlings
Be sure to harden off plants before getting them in the ground. We usually transition our indoor grown seedlings over about a week gradually increasing their sunlight. Cold frames are great for hardening seedlings off and allow you to protect your seedlings through the last frosts and a get jump start on the year.
get your perennial fruits and vegetables planted
With the worst cold temperatures safely in the rear view, it’s time to start planting your gardens. The temperatures are still pretty cool especially at the beginning of the month. This is the perfect time and weather to plant most of the typical perennial fruits and vegetables. Rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, and asparagus crowns should all be getting planted. We will even be trying out some Jerusalem artichokes this year. Getting them planted now will have them well established when the warmer weather arrives.
start (or order) sweet potatoes
We grew sweet potatoes for the first time last year with decent success. This year we were determined to plant twice as much and protect them from the deer better. Instead of buying sweet potato slips, we opted to start our own this year from some leftovers from last year’s harvest. You can start your own slips from most organic sweet potatoes by soaking them in water and letting the sprouts leaf out and their own roots. We will have a full how to very soon.
plant your first summer vegetable seedlings
By mid-April, the chance of getting any frost is pretty low in the south. It’s finally safe to plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant transplants in the garden. Pretty soon the floodgates will open, and you will be planting all of your summer veggies.
divide any fall blooming perennials and grasses
Use any of the last cool moist weather to divide fall blooming perennials and ornamental grasses. Dividing plants is an easy way to rejuvenate plants and help control the size of plants keeping aggressive plants under control. Plus, it’s a great way to turn one plant into many many more. Replant the new divisions, and they will be thriving by summer. Flowering might be a bit delayed, but it is always well worth having double the plants.
start getting houseplants sun gradually
Just like you acclimate seedlings, gradually get your houseplants a bit of sunshine. Many of our houseplants tend to be more sensitive to this change than little seedlings. I prefer to move them outside into a well shaded area giving them more hours of sunlight each day until they find their new spring and summer home.
give your spring vegetables a little boost
Mulch vegetables with straw, partially composted leaves, or even a thick layer of compost. Give the tomatoes a deeper mulching to help prevent early blight fungus from splashing up from the soil onto the leaves. This will help hold in moisture and give the plants a nutrient boost. You will be happy you did when the temperatures start rising and the amounts of rain decrease.
keep churning and watering your compost
I like to spread compost over my garden beds frequently and feed our plants with a healthy dose of compost tea. Keeping a steady train of compost cooking is a must for us. To make sure that your compost is cooking, keep it moist or the decomposition will slow down drastically. I also like to turn my compost at least every week during April (this helps to break it down faster) to give me plenty of finished compost through the late spring and early summer.