Planting Asparagus & Other April Gardening Tips

By Charlie Nardozzi, former Senior Horticulturist National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor University of Vermont

Planting asparagus, making raised beds, and dividing rhubarb are some of
the gardening activities for this month.
Asparagus Planting

As soon as the soil thaws and is dry enough to work in, plant bare-root
asparagus crowns. Choose a spot in full sun for these long-lived perennials.  
Set roots in a 1-foot-deep trench, then cover roots with a few inches of soil that's
been amended with compost. Add more soil as the plants grow until the trench
is full.
Raised beds dry out faster and warm up more quickly in spring than regular
garden beds, so include at least a few in your landscape for early planting.  
They can be as simple as a flat-topped mound of soil, or as elaborate as
decorative stone- and wood-framed beds. Fill them with soil that's been
amended with lots of compost. Whatever you choose, you'll be pleasantly
surprised at how well plants grow.
Rhubarb Care

If your rhubarb plants seem crowded, plan to divide them as soon as the
ground thaws. Choose a cloudy, cool day, dig up the whole crown, and break
off the young side shoots, trying to keep as many roots intact as possible.  
Transplant the mother plant back in the original hole amended with a shovel
full of compost, and plant the babies in a full sun location. Harvest the young
plants lightly, if at all, the first year.

New Shoots of Fruit Trees

If new shoots of your pear, apple, or hawthorn are blackened as though they
were burned, that's a sign of fire blight disease. This bacterial disease, if severe,
can eventually kill your trees. To control it, prune off infected areas several
inches below the damage. Dip your pruners in a weak bleach solution between
pruning cuts to avoid spreading the disease to other trees.
Road Salt Damage

Once the snow melts you may start to see damage from road salt. To help flush
the salt from the soil, water the lawn near roads and walkways several times,
especially during dry periods. This will help move the salt down into the
subsoil. Once this salt is removed, then you can begin to prepare the thin spots
in the lawn for reseeding.
Bare Root Roses

Prepare bare-root roses by pruning away any damaged roots, then soak the
roots in water for several hours. Dig a hole 18 inches deep and wide, and create
a mound of soil in the center. Place the roots in the hole, arranging them
around the mound and adjusting the height so the graft is at or just below
ground level. Fill in around the roots, firming soil gently, and water well.
Mound mulch over the tops to protect the canes while the roots take hold.
Wait to Plant Seedlings

After a long winter it's tempting to buy those first seedlings, flowers, and
vegetable transplants you see on sale.  Just remember these are tender and can
be killed easily by freezing temperatures and frosts.  This especially is true as
most, early in the season, come from greenhouses or southern climates and
haven't been hardened off to cool nights.  

If you do buy some now, make sure to not plant out until the last frost date for
your area (mid-May to mid-June in our northern climate, depending on
locale).  Bring indoors on cold or frosty nights.  If you plant in window boxes
and containers, make sure these can be carried indoors too if needed.

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