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As trees begin filling out with leaves, they form a background for the snow white petals of the dogwoods and also the hot pink of the Judas trees as they welcome mid spring to the Piedmont. No other flower puts on such a spring show all during the month of April. The blooms should be with us all the way into the first days of May.
The jonquils, hyacinths, narcissus, buttercups and daffodils reach the end of their bloom stage, the foliage is still green and it is there for an important reason. Please do not cut it or mow it because it sends nutrients to the bulbs to nurture them for next seasons growth. The foliage will dry up and brown out after it finishes its cycle. It will die back as we move into May.
The fickle month of April
Plenty of cool days and night remain in April, and don’t let the last frost date of April 15 fool you, because we could have the possibility of frost onto the early part of May. Don’t be in a hurry to plant warm weather vegetables until May arrives; cool temperatures of April soil will hinder their growth and in the cold sod, they may not sprout at all. The odds will be much better and there will be less risk if you be patient until early in the garden month of early May. Even if there is no more frost, there will be chilly nights. My Northampton grandma always said “Anytime you sleep with a blanket on the bed, its not the time to plant any warm weather vegetables in the garden.”
Dealing with that yellow pollen is one of the chores of the month as we try to keep it from covering the vehicles and the carport. On a day when an April shower is in the forecast, move the car to the driveway in hopes that the shower will wash off some of the pollen. Keep brooms and leaf blowers handy to keep pollen swept from the carport and prevent it from being tracked into the house. Here’s to hoping the month will produce an abundance of sweet smelling showers!
Keep hummingbird feeders filled
The hummingbirds are arriving in greater numbers. Some spring flowers have not yet reached bloom stage, so the hummers will certainly be visiting the feeders. Check them and refill every three or four days.
You can make your own nectar by mixing one cup sugar, and one cup water, and a few drops of red food coloring. Use this formula to prepare the amount you need. You can purchase nectar in quart bottles or powdered packets that you mix with water.
Also keep the birdbaths filled each day and dump remaining water from the bath. A fresh refill of water each day is necessary because of the pollen that builds up in the bath. This will attract more birds of all types to the baths and feeders.
Time for four o’ clocks
The season to plant four o’ clocks is only two weeks away. You can purchase packets of four o’ clocks at hardware stores, nurseries, garden shops and most supermarkets. They can be sown in rows, beds, or at the edge of the garden. You can not only enjoy colorful flowers all summer but also lush green foliage.
Early Girl tomatoes
Early Girl tomatoes mature 62 days after transplanting to the garden, which helps them live up to their name. It may be too early to plant tomatoes in The Garden Plot, but you can start a packet from seed and they will be ready to transplant by the mid-May. Water the tomato seedlings each day and move plants inside at nights to protect them from cool spells.
Verbenas make wonderful hanging baskets
Verbenas come in red, blue, pink, purple, white and make a good choice for a long day. Lasting hanging baskets of beauty, color, and greenery as they cascade over the baskets. You can mix several colors in each basket or use just one color. Do not use more than four plants per each basket. For more blooms, pinch off spent blooms as they finish their cycle. As the blooms cascade and reaches over the sides of the baskets, they showcase their colors.
Check the Irish potatoes
At this time the foliage on the potato vines should be very dark green and spreading over the soil. Check for early insect damage and spray a mist of liquid Sevin on the leaves if you see any insects or Colorado potato beetles. Give the base of the potatoes an application of Plant Tone organic vegetable food every 15 days and hill up soil after applying plant food.
This dessert is a real sample of springtime.
1 14-ounce can Eagle brand condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. yellow food coloring
2 cups plain flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1½ cups sugar
3/4 cup Crisco shortening
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
4 egg whites
For the lemon filling, combine condensed milk, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and food coloring. Mix together and chill in refrigerator.
For the cake batter, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl, mix sugar, Crisco shortening, and vanilla until fluffy. Add milk to the flour mixture, alternatively. In a medium bowl mix the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites into the cake batter.
Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and pour batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake for 15 minutes. Remove from pans onto waxed paper and cool completely. Split each layer horizontally to make four layers. Spread the lemon filling mixture between the layers.
To make the creamy frosting for the cake, mix 3 cups of powdered sugar, 2/3 cup of Crisco shortening, 2 Tbs. milk, and 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat on low speed till smooth. Add additional milk if needed for desired consistency. Spread a can of flaked coconut over the top of the cake.
Two snakes were crawling along when one snake asked the other, “Are we poisonous?” The other snake said, “Yes, we’re rattlesnakes. Why do you need to know ?” The first snake replied “Because I just bit my tongue!”
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