Hands in the Dirt: MLT gardening tips for April 2022

Frost one day and almost 70 degrees the next! These spring days are exciting either way.

Out in the vegetable patch, lettuce, spinach and radishes can all be direct sown. Peas can still be planted, but not for much longer. I began starting my peas inside last year due to pest pressure from squirrels and slugs, but now the bunnies are after my pea shoots. It’s hard to win! Even if you missed St. Patrick’s Day, potatoes can still be planted throughout the spring. Purchasing seed potatoes from a nursery can provide a greater variety of types, but old forgotten grocery store potatoes that are starting to grow will also produce lots of new potatoes.

Tomatoes and peppers can still be started indoors, but like peas, you’re about to run out of time. If you miss the window for starting tomato seeds, don’t worry, you will still have ample time to purchase started plants in May when they can be transplanted outdoors. Looking for heirloom varieties in May and having a hard time at stores? Or just want more plants? Tomato suckers, the side shoots that grow between the main stalk and a leaf, can be rooted rather quickly to become another plant.

If the weather continues to stay warm, we might be able to get an early start on warm-weather plants like basil, cucurbits (cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, zucchini), or melons, but it’s best to hold off until May if there is cool weather in the forecast. Also, cucurbits are particularly sensitive to having their roots disturbed, so either start seeds in a peat pot that can be planted, or transplant long before the start gets rootbound.

We had an excellent seed swap event on March 5. Over 35 people attended to share and take home seeds for the year. The MLT BOG Free Seed Library grew at the event, and we have lots to share with everyone. There has been interest in another seed swap event this spring, and while another seed-specific event is not currently being planned, the library will be at all BOG work parties and events. See us at an event or contact us to set up a time to peruse the library on your own, and get growing!

Have a question about gardening? Ask it on our Facebook page.

About the BOG

The Ballinger Organic Garden is a volunteer-led effort to develop a community garden at Ballinger Park. The BOG, in partnership with MLT Recreation & Parks and the MLT Senior Center and funded by a grant from the MLT Community Foundation, is currently in “Phase 0” while larger construction activities (creek restoration and trail installation) are completed. Phase 0 includes maintenance of the existing raised beds and a garden plot on the south side of the MLT Senior Center in Ballinger Park. Phase 1 will involve installation of a larger garden with plots available for community members to maintain. Want to volunteer, or have an idea of what you want to see in the future garden? Please let us know.

To stay up to date on what is happening at the BOG, including what’s growing, work parties, and events, follow us on Facebook  or Instagram.

— By Robyn Rice

Robyn Rice grew up in Eastern Washington, pulling weeds and picking up rotten fruit as dreaded chores assigned by her Master Gardener father. Today, Robyn is a fisheries biologist for an environmental consulting firm, and has been gardening in the Seattle area since 2010. Her science background leads to endless research about the “correct” way to do things, but her enthusiasm and sense of adventure leads her to garden fearlessly because hey, what’s the worst that could happen?


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