April showers bring May flowers is an old adage that we hope holds true!
2014 has brought varied weather but a freeze later in the month is always possible. Watch the weather outlook for late freezes before planting crops you would normally plant in May if you want to get a jump-start on the growing year. Watch the nighttime temperatures, and protect plants if it will get close to freezing in your area. The cooler weather usually found in April also gives us a chance to do gardening chores that we avoid in the hot summer weather, such as building new gardening beds, general garden clean-up, and double-digging before planting.
Preparing beds for first-time planting can be quite a physical task, but you will literally reap the rewards for years to come. Double-digging, while labor intensive, is a great way to start a new bed, and if the beds are not walked on later, it needs to be done only once. Start by digging out a spade's width of soil, about the depth of the spade blade, and set this soil aside on newspaper, a piece of cardbord or plywood, or into your garden cart. Use your spading fork to dig down into the furrow you just made, working across the row. You don't need to dig the soil out or even turn it over, just use the tines of the spading fork to loosten the soil. Next, dig up a spade's width from the next area in the bed, putting the soil into the area you just double-dug, removing any roots or large stones as you go. Then use the spading fork to loosten the lower soil, just like before. Contine down the row, placing the upper layer of soil on top of the soil you just loostened in the previous row. When you get to the end of the row fill in the last upper area with the soil you dug out of the start of the bed.
Have a wonderful and bountiful spring.