In the Garden: April
Monthly guide for gardening tasks, forecasts, and more

UPDATE: This In the Garden, monthly guide for April has been updated with new gardening tasks and scheduled plantings, and Farmers' Almanac weather forecasts and moon phases for April 2016. 

Thinking about starting a new hobby? Maybe grow a bit of your own food or flower this year? Get growing and going with this post from the archives, Preparing Your (New or Existing) Garden.


April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.

  ~William Shakespeare

The subtle signs of the season are springing up around the Texas Hill Country. Chilly mornings warm to sunny afternoons.  Tender green-leafed branches provide the perfect stage for the trill of birdsong. Winter's thaw yields a riotous profusion of color soon-- the bluebonnets are already dotting roadsides, to be accompanied by wildflowers of yellows, oranges, reds, and purples so vivid they seem to have been hand-painted.  

It promises to be another glorious Texas spring. 



In the Garden: April 

In this post, find information about gardening in general, and planting advice specifically for USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 8. To find the USDA zone in which you garden, consult the map, below, or visit usda.gov, and adjust planting dates accordingly.  




Fertilize: Tomatoes and peppers should be fed with a liquid fertilizer. Feed crape myrtle beneath the branch spread with 1/3 cup complete fertilizer per sq. yd. After second mowing, fertilize lawn with 3-1-2 ratio product; aerate first, if needed. Fertilize all houseplants with complete fertilizer.

Mulch trees, shrubs, vegetable garden and flower beds (after soil has warmed) with 2-4 inches of mulch. Pine needles and oak leaves make a good mulch for acid-loving plants. Spread coffee grounds around azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

Water: Water as needed.

Transplant: Divide and transplant late summer-and fall-flowering bulbs. Container-grown plants (almost any kind) can go into the ground now. Plant summer annuals to get their root systems established before the extreme heat arrives.

Lawn Care: Plant grass sod or plugs. Water daily for one or two weeks to establish. Begin regular lawn care. Mow every 5-7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Keep St. Augustine grass at 2-1/2 to 3 inches.

SOUTH CENTRAL WEATHER FORECAST | APRIL 2016

1st-3rd. Stormy weather conditions. 4th-7th. Sunshine, dry weather. 8th-11th. Blustery winds spread east. 12th-15th. Fair skies prevail for most areas. 16th-19th. Unsettled weather. 20th-23rd. Potentially severe thunderstorms for Arkansas, down into Louisiana. Storms may be capable of cloud-to-ground lightning, damaging winds, large hail, even tornadoes. 24th-27th. Abundant sunshine. 28th-30th. Clouds, showers move in from the West.


GARDENING BY THE MOON | APRIL 2016

1st-3rd Excellent time to kill weeds, briars, poison ivy, and other plant pests.
4th-5th Set strawberry plants. Excellent for any vine crops, such as beans, peas, and cucumbers. Good days for transplanting. Favorable days for planting root crops.
6th-7th Poor planting days. Break ground or cultivate.
8th-9th Favorable for planting beans, corn, cotton, tomatoes, peppers, and other above-ground crops.
10th-11th Poor days for planting, seeds tend to rot in ground.
12th-13th Plant seedbeds and start flower gardens. Plant tomatoes, beans, peppers, corn, cotton, and other above-ground crops on these most fruitful days.
14th-18th Grub out weeds, briars, and other plant pests.
19th-20th A favorable time for sowing grains, hay, and fodder crops. Plant flowers. Plant corn, melons, squash, tomatoes, and other above-ground crops.
21st-23rd Start seedbeds. First day is a favorable day for planting above-ground crops, especially cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, kale, celery, and other leafy vegetables. Last two days are good days for transplanting. Last two days are also good days for planting beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, peanuts, and other root crops. Also good for Leafy vegetables.
24th-25th Neither plant nor sow on these barren days.
26th-28th Favorable days for planting beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, onions, and other root crops.
29th-30th Excellent time to kill weeds, briars, poison ivy, and other plant pests.


Flower Plants: Ageratum, ajuga, joseph's coat, balsam, wax begonia, blue daze, blue cardinal flower, boltonia, scarlet bouvardia, calico plant, chocolate plant, cigar plant, cockscomb, coleus, columbine, coneflower, copper plant, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, shasta daisy, feverfew, geranium, gomphrena, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, jacobinia, lantana, marigold, nierembergia, penta, periwinkle, persian shield, plumbago ,phlox, portulaca, purslane, rudbeckia, salvia, sedum, stokes aster, sunflower, wishbone flower, yarrow, zinnia.


Flower Seeds: Ageratum, balsam, castor bean, celosia, cleome, cockscomb, coleus, coral vine, cosmos, cypress vine, dahlia, coneflower, feverfew, four-o'clock, globe amaranth, gourd, impatiens, linaria, nasturtium, marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, petunia, pinks, portulaca, scabiosa, sunflower, sweet pea, tithonia, torensia, vinca, zinnia.

Bulbs: Achimenes, acidanthera, allium, alstroemeria, amarcrinum, amaryllis, ground orchid, caladium, calla, canna, crinum, dahlia, daylily, dietes, ginger, gladiolus, gloriosa daisy, host, spider lily, hyposix, liriope, monkey grass, rain lily, society garlic, tigridia. 



Vegetables: Early to Mid-Month: Pepper, Radish, Squash, Tomato
All Month: Amaranth, Bean, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Muskmelon, Okra, Peanuts, Pumpkin, Southern Pea, Sweet Potato, Tomatillo, Watermelon

Herbs: Anise, star anise, basil, bay, borage, bouncing bet, caraway, catnip, chives, comfrey, costmary, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, scented geranium, germander, horehound, horseradish, lamb's ear, lavender, lemongrass, lemon verbena, mexican mint marigold, monarda, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, santolina, summer savory, winter savory, sesame, sorrel, southernwood, tansy, tarragon, thyme, common wormwood, roman wormwood, yarrow.

Fruit: Container grown fruit and nut trees, vines, bushes




REFERENCES



RESOURCES



About Town: Austin | Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen
Recipe: Portuguese Migas Salad


On the 40-acre Belle Vie Farm and Kitchen, located just north of Elgin, Texas, ducks, geese, turkeys, and now pigs peacefully share the good life with humans Aubrey and Perrine Noelke with a sweet cherub of a baby girl, and another baby on the way. They are dedicated to humane, sustainable farming practises and feed only certified organic GMO free grain. They never chemically treat constantly rotating pastures. Read more about 2 of my favorite Central Texas farmers at Edible Austin.

The offerings from their kitchen, which expand deliciously and often, are available for sale at the Texas Farmers' Markets at Lakeline and MuellerAntonelli's Cheese Shop, and for purchase directly.

Recently, I had the pleasure of working with one of their newest sausages, lively-spiced turkey chorizo with the full flavor you'd expect of chorizo, but with less fat....and perhaps less unknown.

It is a pleasure to cook with assurance the products from trusted folks and farms, like the vendors with which I have the honor to work and cook at Texas Farmers' Markets.


Portuguese Migas Salad with Belle Vie Farm Turkey Chorizo
Yield: 4 entrée-sized salads 

Chorizo, a highly-spiced sausage found in Mexican and Spanish cuisines, is a perfect choice for those who aren't quite ready to take the meatless plunge, yet would like to reduce their consumption of animal fats. a little goes a long, flavorful way. 

Portuguese and Spanish Migas are different from the Tex-Mex Migas we traditionally enjoy for breakfast in the Southwest. The word migas means crumbs. Tex-Mex cuisine takes the tortilla chip route. Portuguese and Spanish cuisines follow a more literal route of bread crumbs-- fried bread crumbs, more specifically. The slight crunch stands up nobly to the textures and flavors of this hearty salad, high in fiber and chock-ful of vitamins and minerals, and ready in around 30 minutes for busy weeknights.

1 pkg Belle Vie Turkey Chorizo
1 cup stock or water
½ c chopped spring onion
2T chopped green garlic
2 bunches lacinato kale, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained

Migas (see below)
Dressing (see below)

In a medium skillet, gently braise chorizo, onion, and garlic, turning chorizo frequently to cook through, but remain in casings. When firm, browned, and cooked to an internal temperature of 150°. Remove sausages and cool until easily handled. Slice and reserve.
Add kale to simmering stock and toss well to coat, heating until slightly wilted. Remove to serving platter.
Add black beans to skillet; reduce heat to medium low, stirring frequently to warm through, about 3 minutes. Mound atop kale on platter. Top with chorizo.
Add a few drizzles of dressing and top with toasted migas, both below.


Dressing:

Juice of one grapefruit
Juice of 2 limes
1t cumin
2T chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced

Combine all ingredients in a blender and whirl together on low until well blended. Correct seasonings, adding a touch of honey if a little sweetness is desired.


Migas:

Day old baguette, crumbled
1T extra virgin olive oil

Warm olive oil in a medium high sauce pan until shimmering. Add bread crumbs, tossing to coat and toast until golden. Remove to paper toweling to absorb excess oil. 

NOTE: If you're observing a gluten-free diet, try a gluten-free bread for the migas. If you skip the bread altogether, well, it's not migasBut it wouldn't be bad........

Vendor Sources: 
Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen
Johnson's Backyard Garden



If you're looking for a little inspiration for the seasonal selection from your market haul and find yourself in the Austin area, stop by the Texas Farmers' Market Lakeline on Saturday, April 16, and the TFM Mueller, Sunday, April 17, where I will be celebrating Earth Day, and demonstrating techniques for solar cooking, including a quick solar cooker for use in the hot Texas sun! I'd love to see you there.


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