April in the Garden
Please come visit us at The Natural Gardener for the most comprehensive advice, plants, and organic gardening supplies appropriate to our area and the current season.
Fertilize your lawn
Central Texas lawns need to be fed twice a year, once in spring after the lawn has been mown twice; and fertilize again in the fall. There are many good, organic options on the market – look for a solid, slow-release fertilizer with an N-P-K formulation that has a higher amount of nitrogen (N), which is the nutrient that encourages green, leafy development in plants. If you haven’t aerated your lawn within the past 3 to 5 years, then do it this spring. Topdress with compost before or after aerating for maximum benefit. See our complete Lawn Care Guide.
Feed your plants
March and April are the best months to fertilize established trees, shrubs, and other plants for spring. Spray the landscape with seaweed solution in the morning or evening up to once a week. Also use seaweed solution to water in new transplants to help relieve transplant shock and stimulate rooting.
Feed your soil
It’s important to feed your plants, but also, to feed your soil! Using a liquid soil activator is a great way to improve microbial activity and soil structure. If you haven’t done so yet, topdress your lawn, flower beds, and gardens with compost.
Pull or treat weeds before they seed
Cover bare soil
For the health of your soil, and to prevent weeds, keep your soil covered at all times with plants or compost and mulch. Bare soil invites weeds. Consider planting summer cover crops, such as buckwheat or black-eyed peas, in fallow areas. Add compost, then mulch, to other bare soil areas. An inch or two of compost, and two or three inches of mulch is needed to get the benefits of weed suppression and moisture retention. Other benefits include cooler, looser, more fertile soil.
There are little caterpillars that dangle in great numbers from the oak trees each spring. To save our oaks and plants from defoliation, B.t. or Bacillus thuringensis is a natural solution for caterpillars only. Our goal in organic pest control is to be as specific as possible, and only target the culprit pests to leave the beneficial insects to do their work. Apply according to package directions to the leaves of your oak trees and the underlying plants. When the caterpillars take a bite, they’ll start to get sick. B.t. works on all caterpillars (keep it away from your butterfly garden!) including the Genista which feed on the Texas mountain laurel, and tomato hornworms. If you want to avoid the spraying altogether next year, mark your calendar to release Trichogramma wasps in January or February. These tiny, non-stinging wasps parasitize the eggs of these caterpillars as well as several other pests.
Monitor your plants for insects
Aphids, thrips, whiteflies, stink bugs, and their ilk are best controlled early on, when they’re nymphs or larvae, using the least toxic solution. Correct identification of the bug is the first step, when in doubt, bring in the bug or a photo to our Info Desk!
Watch out for final cold snaps
The Hill Country gets freezes as late as Easter some years, so stay prepared!