The Dutiful Homesteader: April

First chore: Spring planting/sowing

our babies

We’ve moved this one up front and center this month. It’ll be the only thing we can focus on right? And we already have our garden plans from previous months, the soil is nice and amended, and now all that’s left is to get busy planting and seeding. Yes, it’s true that some of us have already started last month, and there are many things that can be planted during every month really. But this is the time when we all can just go for it; get that spring bug out of our system because the list of things to grow is long and very exciting. Go get all your hand tools you put up last year and take the gloves down off the shelf. Begin with the following:

Snap Beans, Basil, Beets, Carrots, Celery, Chard, Corn, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Mustard, Parsnips, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, Radishes, Soybean/Edamame, Spinach, Summer and Winter Squash, Tomatoes.

This planting schedule assumes you are in zone 8 or 9 and practice succession planting…

Next chore: Prune fruit trees after first buds have sprouted

prune the prunes

If you type “prune dead branches” into Google you get a multitude of responses that say different things. So, to prune or not to prune? Hmm… well, this beauty had many dead branches from neglect and most likely it was susceptible to disease, which means that pruning it was the best thing to do. And what if you have a tree that is so overloaded with branches that the center of the tree can’t get enough sunlight and stay healthy? If you’re pruning for shape, however, I do agree that you should be very careful to not (unnecessarily) stress an otherwise healthy plant. With each cut you encourage new growth and one blogger explains that winds at this time of year can cause too much damage to these tenderlings. So consider everything and prune with care. (how to video)

Tip: Now is also the time to prune old canes off your berry bushes that already bore fruit. Keeps the plants strong and prevents the spread of disease.

Next chore: Plant perennials/annuals

Beautifying the homestead? Give your soil a boost with a bit of compost and start planting. But make sure you allow the young plants to sit out a few days first to harden off. This will help them get through the shock of being transplanted outside where there is no protection from the elements. Plant in the late afternoon and mulch.

This site has an excellent and extensive library of plants to grow according to the zone you’re in.

Next chore: Mow, mow, mow

tractor and me

Right after all that crazy winter weather, things get ta growin’. That includes grassy fields with weeds! Break out the floppy hat, grab a water bottle and jump on the tractor… it’s mowing time. In most cases, regular mowing at this time of year will keep fields under control since grasses and weeds won’t be able to go to seed. Then you can slow way down during the summertime, and quit altogether by late fall. Way to show that field who’s boss!

Next chore: Move your overgrown indoor plants outdoors

so much flava!

You’ve had the pleasure of growing your own herbs, citrus, roses, even blackberries indoors over the winter… isn’t it about time you let them breath some fresh air and take in as much sunshine as possible? Overgrown plants (especially citrus trees) will certainly appreciate it and produce much more for you. But do it right, put them out by day, bring them in by night for the first few days… letting them stay out longer and longer each time. And if the weather is still a bit iffy, then move them to a spot that is close to the back door, so you can quickly bring them back inside if need be. Are the plants large enough to be planted outside? That’s something you may want to consider as the weather starts to heat up.

Final chore: Stick to a house cleaning schedule

The entire cleaning schedule that I use breaks it down to a daily, weekly, monthly, biannual and annual schedules, so that housework doesn’t leave me feeling beat up. So I took out the once-a-month portion and added it here. Remember, you’re just trying to stay ahead, not be perfect.

Monthly: Clean out the microwave, oven and fridge. Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Wipe down towel racks, toilet paper holders, hooks and other fixtures. Dust the laundry area/room. Vacuum upholstered furniture. Dust behind TV. Wipe down doorknobs, light switches, windowsills and baseboards.

Extra for this month, clean the windows inside and out (assuming the heavy storms have passed, if not, move this to next month).

Resources

The Farmer Fred Rant
Dummies.com
Fine Gardening Plant Guide
The Weekend Homesteader Series (amazon.com books)
Real Simple
Martha Stewart Living
chron.com
This Old House