I am really behind on my April garden chores, and after the last couple of days, rain and abundant sun is making the cultivated plants and weeds grow.
I would love to tell you I’m all sage and wisdom about my garden chores, but I am not.
Quite frankly, I am trying not to panic.
So, to keep us both on track, here are garden chores I’m performing in my garden for the last two weeks of this month.
Keep cutting back ornamental grasses. Try not to cut any green growth, but if you cut some, it’s okay. Don’t cut back Mexican feather grass or carex. They may not recover. You comb them instead. For me, that means running my fingers through their blades of hair-like grass. Replace any Mexican feather grass that succumbed to wet winter conditions.
Beat the blackeyed Susans and other overreaching plants back into submission. A good rule of thumb is to weed out as much as you think you should and then do at least 1/3 more. Trust me on this especially if you water your beds. Goldenrod is another offender. While doing this look out for autumn clematis, garlic chives, and obedient plant and dig up any that spread by seed or root. We all have these plants in our garden that we wish we’d never grown, but it is what it is.
Clear out the cutting garden beds and sow seeds for zinnias, sunflowers, tropical milkweed, and other pollinator-loving flowers. The bees and butterflies are depending on us.
Buy perennial milkweed at the Tulsa Master Gardeners’ plant sale last Thursday and plant it in multiples all over the garden for Monarch migration. If you buy milkweed, make sure it’s from a source that hasn’t sprayed it with pesticides or caterpillars will die. Don’t just plant one specimen. Plant in threes and fives. I needed Asclepias viridis because it emerges early and will be a larval source for returning Monarchs in spring in future years. I already grow swamp milkweed, A. incarnata, butterfly weed, A tuberosa, and tropical milkweed, A.curassavica. I like ‘Silky Gold’ tropical milkweed, but there are several different types. I plant it in the cutting garden where all the pollinator flowers are.
Weed as if your life depended on it. While you’re out weeding in the garden, listen to the podcast Carol Michel from May Dreams Gardens and I created. You will be able to follow along with me pretty much week-by-week in the garden. We are the Gardenangelists. You can subscribe on iTunes, Buzzsprout–to listen on your computer–and Google Play. We’re working to get on Spotify. You just search for the podcast and then tell whichever platform you use that you want to subscribe. It will, in the future, send you updates. We drop an episode each week.
Start planting summer annuals including vegetables and ornamental transplants. Before planting eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, nights should be consistently above 55°F. I did plant a couple of tomatoes yesterday, and it got down to 46°F this morning so they may have some damage. Drat! I think they will recover. I’m trying several new-to-me varieties of tomatoes this year because my friend, Della, and I traveled to the Tomato Man’s Daughter in Tulsa. Lisa Merrell always has unique varieties. I bought too many. I wish I had some self-control.
Find and buy good plant combinations for your containers. I really love purple fountain grass, especially ‘Fireworks,’ in the center of pots with flowing plants placed around them. I also love dark red banana trees, and I may still buy one. I’ve fallen head over heels for Proven Winners Crazytunia® Moonstruck petunia. Petunias can be iffy in Oklahoma if the weather gets really hot, but we can enjoy them for much of summer beforehand, and if we have a nice summer like last year they will perform until late July if watered with drip irrigation. I’m big on drip irrigation in the garden proper and in containers. I just have too much to care for without it.
Feed roses and daylilies for best performance. I know I’m supposed to tell you to feed the soil and all that, but I use certain fertilizers directly on my roses and daylilies. Otherwise, I just use shredded leaves or Back to Nature on the rest of the garden. I throw natural, high nitrogen fertilizer, like Milorganite, on my daylilies, and Mills Magic Rose Mix on my roses. Years ago, I gave up digging a trench around the roses. I have several so I just throw the fertilizer down around them. It seems to work just as well. I order the rose fertilizer, and I buy Milorganite at Ace Hardware in Edmond, OK. You can also order it I think.
Recently, I gave a talk, and afterward, a sweet lady came up to me, leaned in conspiratorially and asked, “Who do you get to help you in the garden? You can tell me.”
I had to laugh because I don’t have help in the garden unless I need something huge like my zebra grass dug out. Yes, that happened this year. It was crowding out the ‘Ogon’ spirea, and nobody does that! When these big jobs happen, I call my son, Brennan, and ply him with cookies.
I do all the garden work myself, but remember, this is my job, and I work from home. Unless I’m helping my mom or I have an appointment in town, I’m out here working in the garden for four to six hours a day, especially this time of year.
Now, if I have a large tour coming up like when we did the Oklahoma Horticultural Society tour, I will enlist various acquaintances. It’s not that I’m too proud or stubborn to hire help, but there aren’t many people lining up. Gardening on a large scale is hard work.
That being said, if there’s someone out there who wants to work in my garden, I would pay really well.
Crickets, I hear crickets.
Until next time, keep on growing.