Plantwise
Image: Betsy Lance

PLANT IT

April, when soil warms up, is prime time to get some veggies in the ground. Incorporating compost prepares your dirt for a productive season. What to add? Homemade, well-decomposed leaf mold or kitchen compost are the most economical and environmentally sound choices, providing valuable earthworms and microbes. If you don’t have a bin or pile, buy composted organic manure. Mushroom compost (manure used to grow mushrooms) is particularly good for vegetable gardens. Roughly spade it into your bed, and rake level. If the compost is warm, let it rest for a few days until it feels cool. Once the soil is consistently above 40 degrees (use a soil thermometer to check temperature), you can sow lettuce, spinach, arugula, and most greens, plus onions, root vegetables, and kale seed. You can also plant potatoes; cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli; and starts of rhubarb, asparagus, and small fruit like strawberries.

SEE & DO

Catch the early blooms along Hoyt Arboretum’s Magnolia Trail. Drink in the saucer’ creamy perfume and swoon over the unusual Magnolia dianica trees’ velvety cinnamon buds and dazzling white flowers.

If these sights and smells aren’t inspiring enough, the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon’s Spring Plant Sale & Garden Festival (Portland Expo Center, April 9–10) is the best plant sale of the spring.

Finally, baby chicks and ducklings are seemingly flocking to farm and garden supply shops. If you’re even thinking of taking the leap into backyard livestock, their fuzzy faces will push you over the edge.

For more details, see Kate Bryant’s blog, Plantwise