A personal record of what's going on in my Northern Michigan zone 4 gardens. I use raised beds and grow organically. Nothing fancy--just trying to garden with nature in mind.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of the Month Roundup-- April, 2014

April passed quickly and the change from last month is nothing short of miraculous.  Despite heavy snow this year (over 150 inches), the melt-off was so slow that we had the least amount of water problems in our basement than we've had in the seven years we've lived here.

We've had rain , rain, and more rain this week--and I'm not complaining.  We typically come out of our winter under "Extreme Fire Danger" warnings.  Not so this year.  Our abundant snows and plentiful rains have taken care of that problem.  The lawn has started to "green-up".  Color--what a delight when one hasn't seen it in 6 months.

The below normal temps continue---we are still running 10 degrees below normal.  I don't mind. I'd much rather have it too cool than too warm.  It's part of the reason I moved to Michigan.

The first garden task on April 9  was cutting down and grinding up the remaining corn and sunflower stalks that I left standing all winter for the birds.  I spread the mulch it produced back onto the beds.

Coldframes are .....there.  That's about all I can say.   Only one has germinated ---the one planted April 11 (which is 11 days later than normal!)  That contains radish, mesclun, spinach, kohlrabi and bunching onions.

Coldframe #1 finally starting to germinate

Coldframe 2--Sown April 18--is nothing but spinach.  Oh, and scallions--my first attempt at those.
                         I also sowed my first row of Sugar Snap Peas on that date.  No sign of them, either.

April 19 I set up the water tanks to start collecting rainwater.

It's too early to tell what did or did not make it through the winter.

I spent April 20 prepping the Blueberry patch.  Copious amounts of compost and coffee grounds added to the base of each bush and then a fresh topping of pine needles in each row.  Tidy, or as DH would say---German Tidy!!

Fifteen very happy Blueberry bushes
April 25  I sowed a third coldframe (just covered with fabric) with radish/mesclun/beets/bunching onions and another "new to me"--Swiss Chard "Bright Lights".

Also for my records and because I am intrigued by Phenology-- this final week in April is when the Maple seedlings germinate.......all 27,459,999,835 of them.   Sigh.   But, I'd rather deal with that in my flowerbeds than to miss all that glorious shade in the summer.
ALL my flowerbeds and pathways look like this---Maple seedlings---EVERYWHERE

So while it appears nothing much is going on out there, all you northern gardeners know this is the time when the real work gets done--lots of preparations with not much visual reward.  We have to be satisfied with just that fresh air, exercise,  sunshine (?? where??) and birdsong. Not a bad deal at all.

Have a wonderful week


  1. Gosh, you've been getting out and getting a lot done! We still have snow very much in evidence and ground (in and out of the garden) so wet we can hardly walk on it yet. Our temps are running 20° below normal so it's no wonder I am feeling way behind on outside tasks to be done. Terrific winds first of this week and trees blowing down because of the saturated ground. (No damage right here on our property though, thank you very much.) I have not a thing planted in the garden (cold frames or no), but soon, I hope, soon! Great to see your end of the month summary.

  2. I just love the layout of your beds. Do you grow the maple seedlings and sell them?

    Glad you are enjoying the rain and not drought conditions like so much of the country. Looking forward to seeing your garden come alive!

  3. German tidy, I like that. Must be because I can really relate to it. ;-) I have to tell you, I love the look of your house and the beds surrounding it. Beautiful even without anything blooming yet.

  4. Hello Sue, what a big difference in the scenes below with the snow.. Your gardens are so neat and pretty. It is great you are collecting the rainwater, I am sure you will find a good purpose for it.. we are getting tons of rain right now, the last couple of days. So the ground is saturated.. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  5. First thing I noticed was no snow! It looks great and yes it is tidy. I love how you've lined paths and beds with the rocks. I'm guessing those rocks are abundant on your property. The gardening season has begun!

  6. Sue, glad to see comments open again. April has been a spotty month here in Nebraska as well but has finally moved into the mostly warm with a day here and there of cold weather. Nice to see that flip from the opposite which was mostly cold weather. My big 400 gallon water tank is about half filled. I have attached three 55 gallon barrels to the big tank. If the big tank gets filled to capacity they can be used as an overflow for summer storage. My potatoes that I planted over a month ago are finally starting to sprout up through the thin layer of mulch. The cabbages are finally holding their own and the onions are beginning to grow on their own.

    I just couldn't help myself when I went to the Ace hardware store to buy parts to fix the swingset for another summer. They had tomato and pepper plants for sale. I just had to buy a pack of four Big Beef tomatoes and a pack of California Wonder pepper plants. Since I had the bucket growing system all set and ready, I planted them and put the lids on the buckets to keep them safe of the raging storms that night. Off with the lids the next day and all is well so far.

    The tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers that I started from seed were transplanted into bigger plastic cups to give them a boost before setting them out in the big garden on their way to a later harvest.

    Life is good on the Urban Ranch where I live and on Terra Nova Gardens where gardening happens. Have a great day in the Michigan garden.

  7. Well, your last statement captured my feelings exactly. And it's especially true this year when I am adding a bunch of new beds, or trying to at least - this weather has not made it easy! I just recently found your your blog; I can't believe I hadn't seen it before considering you are "just around the corner", so to speak. You have an absolutely amazing setup - all the raised beds & the fruit garden...I just love it!

  8. I echo Anke - the bones of your beds and gardens are lovely and please the eye even without greenery, etc. this time of year. I, too, like tidy - it somehow relaxes me. Go figure. Also with David - wonderful that I can comment on your posts now! Hope for more opportunities in the future. Stay warm.

  9. Hi Sue! I'm glad to see your snow has melted and things are waking up. I hope you see lots of new growth soon!

  10. Hi Sue .. your yard is coming alive! Hurray! You've been busy.

  11. Wonderful post. As a "northern gardener" you've almost made me give second thought to my decision to give up veggie gardening here in Bluff Country. After 45 years of that my knees had finally said "enough." Now I'm missing my cold frames, "GRO' light, seedling etc ... Now I settle for watching your season progress, Sue.....:)

  12. Your garden roundup for April certainly is different than the roundup for March. Summer is on its way.