April: What to do in the garden

* The average last frost date in Portland, OR is April 26. Try to hold back from planting warm season veggies until then….

Planning Ahead

  • Watch the weather. Check air temperatures and soil temperatures.
  • Prepare beds for the garden 1 – 3 weeks before planting.
  • Weed while the ground is soft, wet, and warm and the weeds are young.
  • Mulch to prevent weeds. Rake back mulch and warm the soil before planting seeds.
  • Compost and collect organic matter for the compost pile.
  • Turn your compost pile.
  • Add compost and amend your soil.
  • Patrol for slugs.
  • Protect your plants from deer and other wildlife.
  • Ensure good air flow around your plants to prevent fungal disease.
  • Inoculate soil with mycorrhizae.
  • Build trellises for vining plants.

In The Vegetable Garden

  • Direct sow cold-tolerant vegetables outdoors, such as arugula, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, parsnips, carrots, lettuces, parsley, parsnips, leeks, radishes, spinach, turnips, quinoa, and shallots outdoors.
  • If you have starts, transplant arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, lettuces, and spinach in the garden. Transplant cabbages by the end of the month.
  • Soak your pea seeds in preparation for planting. Just before planting, cover in legume inoculant.
  • Start tomatillos, basil, ground cherries, cucumbers, pumpkins, and squashes (summer and winter) indoors.
  • Tend to your indoor tomato, and pepper plants.
  • Pre-sprout your potatoes for planting outdoors after they harden off.
  • Plant perennial vegetables.
  • Fertilize overwintering crops with nitrogen to perk them up.
  • Harvest spring ephemerals such as rhubarb, ramps, and spring garlic.
  • Harvest Leafy Greens and other remaining crops from the winter garden.
  • Fertilize your garlic to encourage strong growth.
  • Hill up your potato plants as needed.
  • Begin harvesting!
  • Work on using up your winter stores of food as fresh garden produce will be coming soon

Fruit Trees and Berry Bushes

  • Finish planting bare root trees and shrubs.
  • Prune woody plants. Prune azaleas, rhododendrons, forsythia, and other flowering shrubs when they are done blooming. Prune summer flowering shrubs before they put on new growth.
  • Control foliar diseases using compost tea on roses, apples, pears, cherry, etc.
  • Watch for currant worms. Ideally, feed the worms to your chickens.
  • Graft fruit trees.
  • Fertilize and prune your berry bushes.
  • Divide and transplant strawberries and raspberries.
  • Check your trees and shrubs for insect or disease problems.
  • Spray fruit trees for fungal diseases such as scab and mildew.
  • Inoculate mushrooms in woodchip mulch, straw, or logs.


  • Label the locations of your bulbs for dividing in the fall.
  • Consider where you may want to plant more bulbs to enhance repetition and beauty in your landscape. Mark these areas for fall bulb planting.
  • Divide, transplant, and fertilize perennials. Make sure you do this before your perennials begin to flower or get too large (in May for many perennials).
  • Transplant any potted plants into larger containers.
  • Direct sow hardy flowers, such as Borage, Calendula, Feverfew, Love in a Mist, Mallow, Nasturtiums, and Flax. In late April, sow half-hardy flowers such as Blazing Star, Canna, Chinese Aster, Cosmos, Flowering Tobacco, Lavaterra, Pincushion Flower, and Sunflowers.
  • Plant summer blooming bulbs or tubers including Gladiolas, Crocosmia, Dahlias, Calla Lilies, etc.
  • Take cuttings of early flowering perennial shrubs and bring indoors for forcing into bloom.
  • Dry herbs for tea.

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