April is a very exciting month for gardening. After a winter’s rest, the trees are starting to turn green and the spring garden bulbs are starting to emerge from the earth and bloom. Between the rain drops, it’s time to get growing outside. There is nothing like the flavor of home grown vegetables!

Vegetables to Plant in April

There are a lot of vegetables that like the colder weather. This is a time to direct seed sow radishes, carrots, collards, Swiss chard, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, kohlrabi and beets. Parsley and cilantro also love the colder weather.

If you are going to the local green house to buy starter plants, you may want to pick up some broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Make sure you purchase smaller, younger plants or they will bolt fast once the warmer weather arrives.

You can also get some asparagus roots, strawberry and onion starts. If you haven’t already planted peas, now is the time to get them planted.

This is also a good time to prune raspberry canes, before the new growth starts. This will help contain the canes and assist with a healthy harvest.

Flower Beds & Wildflower Gardens

It is always a good idea to get flower beds mulched. As the plants emerge, the mulch is already in place and you don’t have to work around the plants. If you desire a wildflower garden, just sprinkle wildflower seeds on the soil and lay about a half inch of mulch on top. Natural mulches without chemicals and colorations are preferred to help enrich the soil in the flower beds. Calendula and nigelia seeds should also be directly sown early. A few flats of pansies planted around the perimeter always add a nice touch to the spring flower garden.

Assessing Soil Health

Soil is the most important ingredient in any gardening. A soil test can be very beneficial in letting you know what is needed to be added to the soil for gardening success. Penn State Extension offers soil testing for kits for $9.00. Compost and mushroom soil are very rich in nutrients and help to draw worms that help to break up clay soils. Garden lime may be need to be added for acidic soils to bring down the ph levels to a neutral level.

Advice to Gardeners

If you are a first-time gardener, it is easy to get zealous in spring. Be realistic about what you would like to grow and start small. This will assure you to be a success in gardening. Since many cooler weather vegetables are planted in both spring and fall, try growing a few in the spring and maybe a few more in the fall. A great way to learn what works and doesn’t for you is by getting a notebook and taking notes on your garden.

If you are not growing, buy local and support your local growers. Produce that has not traveled far to get to your table will always taste better and be more nutritious. Find local produce and a large selection of your gardening needs here at Wolff’s Apple House!

Nan Reinert is an avid gardener and owner of Chubby Pickle Farm in Birdsboro, Pa. She has taught numerous classes educating people on gardening, cooking and canning related topics.