Are you ready for National Gardening Month?

No matter if your thumb is green or decidedly brown, you can still get out in the garden and brighten up your spring with a little planning. Celebrate the wonders of a beautiful spring season and give your dirt a little turn this spring.

You’ve got to start with well-prepared soil. You can start with a little bit of rototilling on dry soil to break up the surface. Avoid going in too rigorously, though. You don’t want to destroy all of the earthworms in the area or burn up the organic material too quickly. Add in compost and expanded shale and finish preparing the bed with a good digging fork and you’ll be well on your way to a very nice growing medium. Make sure to pull up weeds or at least the tops and enough of the roots that they don’t plague your garden all summer long.

Next you’ll want to make sure that you feed the plants going into the ground. Many gardeners like a 10-10-10 synthetic fertilizer for vegetable gardens. For an organic garden, try soybean meal, which adds nitrogen. Many local nurseries have soil test kits available if you’re not sure what your soil needs. Add an inch or two of compost over the prepared bed and you’ll be ready to start planting. Make sure to leave yourself set walking paths so you don’t trample down all of that freshly tilled soil.

Some great early crops for April include tomatoes, peppers, snap beans, zucchini, radishes, cucumbers, corn, and squash. Look for proven, adapted varieties. Talk to other gardeners in your area, or contact your county’s Master Gardener (search online, they’re easy to find). Good plants and flowers for planting in early April include cannas, gladiola corms, ground covers, warm-weather annuals, perennials, and turf grasses.

If you’re not feeling like planting much, but want to just keep up with the plants you already have, it’s a good time to get out and do some maintenance. Prune shrubs and vines once they’re done blooming. Check your roses and other ornamentals for signs of powdery mildew, which is common in the spring. If you spot it, there are treatments available at your nursery. Turf grasses should be fertilized at the beginning of the month. You can use a weed and feed product as long as it’s safe for your type of grass.

Finally, if you need an inspiration, check out the final weekends of the Dallas Blooms Festival at the Arboretum. Return again in a couple weeks, too. The annual explosion of azaleas toward the end of April is always magnificent.

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