This week the Monitor will begin a column by Doc and Katy Abraham on what to do in your garden in the month ahead. Each of the six basic geographic regions in the US will be included in our ``calendar,'' which will run on the last Tuesday of each month. Northeast Start seeds of tomatoes, if you haven't already done so. Still time to make a sowing of peppers indoors. Start at 72 to 80 degrees F. (both day and night) for fast germination.
Try Sugar Ann and Sugar Snap, edible potted peas.
Scatter rotted manure and fertilizer along base of rhubarb and asparagus plants.
Open cold frame a crack from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on hot days. Close at night and cover with tarp on very cold nights.
Plant bare root trees, also shrubs such as roses, privet, maples, basswood, etc.
Set out spent bulbs of hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. (Be sure to remove from pots).
Paint ``shade'' on your cold frame and greenhouse to cut down on sun. Use cheap grade of white outdoor latex house paint, 1 part to 8 parts water.
Rig up some hanging baskets. Wire baskets lined with sphagnum moss (enough to loosely fill the basket about 11/2 inches thick). Fill with soil mix of equal parts of sand (or perlite), peat moss, compost, and garden loam. In early May add plants to acclimatize them. Set out in shirtsleeve weather. Middle Atlantic
Buy Picotee petunia (Cherry, Velvet, and Blue) for beds, urns, porch pots, and baskets. They are compact and floriferous, plus resistant. Pinch them back if over 6 inches tall.
Hold off setting out peppers until soil is really warm. Cold soils delay growth and flowering. First week in May is plenty safe.
Give transplants an early feeding of balanced fertilizer for a quick boost.
Get Wando and edible podded peas in the ground -- the earlier the better.
Make a sowing of parsley.
Remove debris around roses. Cut down blackened canes. Feed to stimulate growth. South
A bit late for cool weather crops that must make it before hot weather sets in. Try beets and carrots. Lettuce will make it if watered amply.
Try your hand at Globe Artichoke, an ideal hot-weather plant.
Loosen up dead patches in lawn, sow Bermuda grass, or plant sprigs of St. Augustine.
Plant summer-blooming bulbs, cannas, caladiums, etc. If day lilies are overcrowded, divide, replant, and water well.
A good Southern flower is Achimenes, producing small, scaly tubers. Comes in a wide range of colors -- red, lavender, orange, pink, and white. Pot 3 tubers in a hanging basket or 8-inch pot. Will grow in sun or semishade.
Still time to set out eggplant, peppers, and even tomatoes. Walters is a good Southern tomato variety. Also try the new Celebrity -- a good all-purpose bush type. Midwest
If you rushed the season, protect plants from strong winds, typical of the Midwest.
Set out rhubarb and asparagus plants. If soil is workable, plant Irish potatoes, onion sets and plants, also edible podded peas.
If new growth has started on roses, prune out dead winterkilled canes.
Lift overcrowded mums and divide. Same with Shasta daisies. Both tend to overcrowd.
If sun and wind dry out perennial bed, water plants well, give feeding, and add mulch of sawdust, peat moss, straw, etc.
Plant gladiolus bulbs at two-week intervals.
Looking for something new? Try the Gazania named Mini-Star Tangerine. Loves heat, ideal in tubs, pots, or beds. Don't overlook Verbena, a fine low-growing annual. New All-American Selection is Trinidad. Plants are pest free.
Rake over mole mounds, sow grass seed on the area, roll the area, and forget it. Northwest
Set out Brussels sprouts and cauliflower for early harvest. Seed can be planted directly outdoors.
Try planting beets, lettuce, or parsley in containers or in the garden.
Give rhododendrons, azaleas, and camellias an acid fertilizer to prevent rolling.
Berry plants such as raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries planted in March can be fed and watered. Established gooseberries and blueberries can get an occasional pruning.
Still time to plant gladiolus corms and dahlia toes.
If you're in a short-season area, set out red, white, and yellow onions.
Give your fireplace a cleaning and save ashes for the garden or compost.
Cold nights can sneak up and wreck early plantings. Plastic jugs, hot tents, bushel baskets -- all give protection until weather's more certain.
Early spuds are safe enough to plant now. If you cut your seed pieces make sure each one has one or two eyes (buds). Let soil temperature be the judge. Cold soils can rot the seed of almost everything except peas.
If you believe in phenology (relationship between climate and plant growth) let deciduous trees be your guide (until weather settles). When they start to sprout, begin gardening seriously. Southwest
Mountainous areas have a short growing season. Late April is safe enough to set out tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.
New gardeners in hot areas should try New Zealand spinach, a great substitute for regular cool-weather spinach.
Wando is a heat-resistant pea you can count on. Sow seed now.
Sow onion seed, sets, and plants. Keep them watered for large onions in summer.
Set out more roses. Don't overlook tree roses, always an eye catcher.
Add rotted compost or manure to your fruit trees.
Mulch and feed raspberries for bumper crops.
Red Sails lettuce is one of this year's All-American winners. Try it in borders and containers. Cool weather intensifies colors, making it more attractive.
Fertilize your asparagus bed. Apply a balanced fertilizer (such as 5-10-5 or 10-10-10, or something similar) at rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Water it well afterward.