In case you ever doubted it, April sends us a reminder — a week of May followed by a few days of February, complete with snow. Yes, April IS the cruelest month.
During the recent warm week I got my Tivas out of the closet, a sure sign of good weather, and stripped down to one layer. No shorts yet; I’m not stupid. (I know what you’re thinking.) I planted potatoes and started a strawberry bed. I potted up several sprouted dahlias and put them out back in the sun.
Then the white Asian pear petals that drifted through the air turned almost imperceptible to snow flakes and the thermometer plummeted. The potted dahlias had to find room inside.
That’s why my wife hates April.
One of the reasons. I wasn’t worried about things tucked away underground, though they might think twice about popping up for a while longer.
Like the strawberries. I haven’t grown strawberries since we moved here decades ago. There just wasn’t room. Now there is, since I have managed to kill a number of space glutton plants.
You can buy strawberry plants potted and growing if you don’t mind waiting a couple of years to get your investment back.
Instead I bought a pack of 15 bare root plants, dead looking, packed in peat moss. I planted a dozen of them in a grid and potted up the extra three, ready to replace any that demurred. There are always some with bare root plants.
Planting takes a bit of care.
I dig the hole and make a cone of soil at the bottom, spreading the roots over the cone. Fill in the hole so the crown of the plant is ever so slightly below the soil surface.
I water in all new bare root plantings with half strength fertilizer and a few drops of Superthrive, a vitamin and kelp brew in use since 1940.
I cannot guarantee that the Superthrive helps, but I know it doesn’t hurt. I’ve used it for many, many years. Using only a drop or two at a time, I am on my second bottle.
In a few days the weather will warm — it’s April after all — and I will take my coffee out every morning to look for sprouts on the strawberries and potatoes. Soon.
I have also been carefully watching my hardy hibiscus, the ones with flowers that are literally (and I use the word literally literally) the size of a dinner plate. They are notoriously late to emerge, long after green sprouts of many or most perennials, and I leave the dead stems of last year’s growth to mark where they are. Tiny red spots, incipient buds, now show at the very base of these old stems. Time to scratch in some fertilizer for the biggest and best blossoms in July.
Tulips, which should have been fed when the sprouts were an inch tall but weren’t, are now blooming. Fine for this year, since everything they need was stored in the bulb last fall, but not so good for next year. They need food, and fast. So instead of giving them a cheaper granular fertilizer, I’ll use a faster acting liquid.
The daylilies and peonies and hostas and probably many others that I haven’t noticed yet, because I haven’t gone outside in the cold and wind, are also hungry.
There is still time to give them common garden fertilizer, which I shall do soon. Very soon. Weather permitting.