April always brings a glimmer of hope to the gardener. The days are warmer, though the winds are brisk and cool. Snow melts fast under the heat of April sun. Some days will definitely feel like March and others will tease us with the joy of May ahead. April in Minnesota is the month I consider the beginning of Spring. Poetry is plentiful about this change of our seasons.
“If Spring came but once a century instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This year our change will be dramatic. Huge snow piles will melt away. Frost deep in the soil will work its way toward the surface to leave us again for the warmth ahead. Water will fill up the voids in your landscape and feed the thirsty roots below. It smells different in April. Moist earth, rotting vegetation, fresh spring rain, new plants emerging from the soil all fill the air with new but still familiar fragrance. Gardeners relish this change of season.
April does bring some chores for those of us that tend gardens. As soon as soil can be worked you can plant a few things. Cool season vegetables such as lettuce, spinach and radishes can be planted in April. Pansies will also love the cool temperatures and are hardy down to 26 degrees. The friendly faces of pansies are truly a welcome sign of Spring.
If you have wrapped any trees to help prevent frost cracking or to protect them from rodent chewing, April is a great time to remove the wrap. Trees need to have air circulation to keep bark healthy and by removing the winters wrap you will provide that. Speaking of trees, you will notice the first signs of new growth by color changes in the outer branches of many trees. Watch the willows for a fresh green color tint in the upper parts of the branches.
One important thought for this month is that April is as solid as the ground we stand on. How true when we think of early spring lawn care. You need to wait until the soil firms up to begin to rake your lawn. By working too early you will compact the soil you walk on and can even damage your grass. Once the ground is ready you can lightly rake your grass and apply early spring lawn fertilizer. If you apply fertilizer with crab grass control wait to do that in May around the time the common lilacs bloom.
For Pahl’s, April is the month when our greenhouse fills up with all the beautiful plants we have been growing since February. Color is filling our world here at Pahl’s! We also begin to see familiar faces, as customers come back each year. On April 12 we will celebrate with our annual Open House. The smiles of a season of hope bring us all back together.
Bern Williams wrote, “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring”. How true, and my favorite is by Ruth Stout, “I love Spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden”.
So April, Bring on your showers and your warm sunshine. We are ready and waiting to greet you once again.