"Part Two of the dreaded April To Do List," by the Whistling Gardener

Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
Get Inspired for Spring. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. 

Last week we touched on roses, lawns, pruning and assessing winter damage and if you happened to miss it you can read it here or go to my website at where all of my columns are archived and searchable by various topics.

Now on to the rest of the list.

PERENNIALS: This is an ideal time to dig and divide perennials and plant new ones as well. Use an old kitchen knife or garden spade or fork to separate them or for the really tough jobs borrow the hubby’s Sawzall (just don’t tell him what you are using it for).

For a little extra insurance I like to soak the plants in a solution of Liquinox Start. In addition to several nutrients it also contains yucca extract and for only $5.99 a quart it is cheap insurance (a quart will make 64 gallons).

VEGGIE GARDENS: April is the month to plant potatoes, carrots, peas, radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower and any of the perennial veggies like artichokes, asparagus and rhubarb. Don’t forget the compost and fertilizer.

SMALL FRUITS AND BERRIES: Blueberries, raspberries, black berries, strawberries, grapes, kiwis, currants and gooseberries can be planted almost any time but the earlier the better. Remember, these are permanent plants so it is especially important to use some compost and organic starter fertilizer when planting.

FRUIT TREES: This gets tricky because by now nurseries have planted up all their bareroot fruit trees into pots and in a perfect world it would be best not to disturb them for a couple of months.

But since most gardeners won’t wait that long (and nursery owners want to sell them) just realize that when you remove your tree from its pot most of the soil is going to fall off the roots so it is imperative that you get it into the hole and covered up as fast as possible. Again, try a little Liquinox Start for that extra boost.

BULBS: Summer blooming bulbs are now in stock such as dahlias and gladiolas and lilies and can be purchased and planted this month. In the case of dahlias I like to drive in a stake next to the tuber at the time of planting so I don’t accidentally stab it later. If you like Gladiolas but they get too tall for your garden try the dwarf Glamini varieties which stay under 24 inches tall and don’t need staking.

WEEDS: Most weeds can be controlled without the use of toxic chemicals. Hula Hoe them when they are still young and tender and cover the soil with an inch of compost and that should do it except for the perennial ones that will come back from the roots. You might need to play hard ball with them.

Just remember that April is a fabulous month to plant anything and everything and the best route to success is to use lots of compost and organic fertilizer (and maybe an occasional shot of Liquinox Start).

Here’s to one of the best gardening months of the year.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITES: Once again, if you find yourself needing a break from all these chores then consider attending our class  “Have Fun with Hypertufa” on Saturday, April 11th.

Hypertufa is popular for making garden ornaments, pots and land forms and is relatively light compared with terracotta or traditional concrete and can withstand harsh winters.

Come to this demonstration class to learn how to add a personalized touch to your garden. Join us for this FREE class that starts @ 10am!

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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