Welcome to the first of Anel’s monthly gardening posts!
The Botanical Bosnian himself has agreed to share his gardening tips each month through the end of the season which is exciting for any gardeners and/or aspiring gardeners out there because if this man knows anything, it’s his way around a garden. He will share what to do and how to do it month by month to get the best harvest possible.
Note that our timing is based on the climate in New England so this could definitely be different depending on where you live.
So let’s hear some tips from the “plant daddy” himself…
Anel’s April Gardening Tips
Choose your garden site: If you haven’t planted a garden yet, look for a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day and has well-draining soil if you’re not using a raised bed. If your garden is covered in shade, consider cutting down trees if that is a possibility. We did that for our garden, and to off-set what we chopped down, we planted new trees in another location, and we still use the wood from the trees we cut down for fire wood.
Soil testing: Consider having your soil tested to determine its nutrient levels and pH levels. This will help you choose the right fertilizers and soil amendments for your plants. In general, the pH balance you want for a healthy garden is 5-7. That said, some plants like soil that’s more acidic than others.
Clear and prepare the site: Remove any weeds or grasses, loosen the soil with a shovel, and add compost or other organic matter to improve soil structure and fertility. I am maybe overly passionate about my soil and personally like to disturb it as little as possible and treat it as one large organism.
Prep your soil by adding organic compost to ensure that you are providing the soil nutrients before you put in the plants. Compost is a slow release fertilizer for the soil. The more time you give it to release into the soil, the readier your soil will be for plants.
The ideal time to prep soil is in the fall, but if you didn’t do that, it’s totally fine. Just keep it in mind for the future.
Plan your garden: Decide what plants you want to grow and where you want to plant them. Keep in mind factors such as plant height, sunlight requirements, and soil preferences so do your research!
Consider planting companion plants to help prevent pests and boost plant health. For example, planting marigolds next to tomatoes can help repel certain pests such as whiteflies. Another example for tomatoes is basil. Planting basil next to tomatoes can not only help to repel pets, but it improves the flavor of the tomatoes. It also makes for easy grabbing for your next Caprese salad.
Planting beans next to corn helps out both plants. The bean roots improve soil health with nitrogen-fixing bacteria by pulling nitrogen out of the air to share with the corn. Alternately the beans can use the corn stalks to climb up as they are a vining plant. It’s a win/win.
Crop rotation (meaning changing up where you put plants each season) is another important thing to keep in mind. It helps prevent soil-borne diseases and pests from building in the soil. For example, I really like to rotate rotate my carrots year over year. They grow into the soil and they spread the soil so when you put a different plant there, it has room to grow. It’s a good natural way to spread the soil especially if you don’t turn it, or till it.
There are also plants that don’t get along with other plants. For example, nobody likes to be around garlic for too long so it’s good to plan to tuck it away in a corner or away from other plants.
I could go on forever but a simple Google search will help you figure out what to plant where based on your choices of veggies.
See below for how I’ve planned our 2023 garden. I use the Good Notes app to draw out my plan every spring. It’s basic but does the trick.
Even though I plan these things out, a lot of the time I go by feel and change things around as I plant and build out the garden for the season.
I hope this was helpful for you guys. My next post, in May, will be all about going to the nursery to pick out plants, planting the plants, how much water they need, and mulch.