by Leigh Mills
April at the Heyokah Homestead is an exciting month. Spring is fully here, the temperatures are warming up, birds are singing everywhere, honeybees are flying around and it’s time to plant the first outdoor seeds. It’s been so warm that it’s been difficult to keep myself from planting too many different seeds outside. I just keep remembering those mid-June nights where the temperature can easily drop to a frosty 19 degrees.
April is also a busy month, especially if you are like me and have a space to start seeds and keep the seedlings warm until it’s time to transplant them outside. I started some short season tomatoes in February and transplanted them into bigger pots around the first of April, an optimal transplanting time according to my bio-dynamic planting calendar. Towards the end of March, I started some Santium tomato seeds, along with broccoli, my lovely Zulu daisy, and a few more flower seeds. These have sprouted nicely and will be ready to transplant much later in the spring.
Since our growing season is so short, I always baby my food and flowers. In the outside garden area, I covered many of my raised beds in March with plastic to start warming the soil in preparation for planting seeds and transplanting strawberry plants. There are several optimal windows for planting root crops outdoors during April and my beet, onion, and first set of carrot seeds were planted in raised beds protected by 4 mil thick plastic. Succession plantings of carrot seed during April, May and early June will accommodate our eating desires and establish plants that will be saved for seed the next year. Taking the plastic off in the garden beds in the morning and covering them at night becomes a daily habit here at the Heyokah Homestead from now until after our area’s last frost date of June 15.
Our garden is a strawberry heaven and this year’s task is to transplant strawberry plants from their old beds into new ones. Strawberries are great to have in the garden; however, they can be a high-maintenance plant. Every three years or so, the plants need to be moved around the garden and twice every season, our plants’ runners need to be cut or allowed space to grow. There will be a variety of small strawberry plants to move as well as many large “mother” clumps which are made up of several years’ growth. The “mother” clumps will be broken up into smaller clumps, which result in not just a transplanting, but also an expansion and our strawberry capacity will double this year. To strengthen the new transplants, any new flowers will be pinched back and their mid-summer runners cut. This will allow the plant to establish itself and produce an abundance of fruit next year.
I always seem to have more plants than space, so if you are interested in a strawberry plant or two, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy Planting!