Simple 19th Century Garden Wisdom for April

by Tusha Yakovleva

Sometimes, the farther back in time a search for gardening information, the more updated and wise the advice. In Gardening for Profit: A Guide to the Successful Cultivation of the Market and Family Garden, published in 1867, Peter Henderson answers the basic questions of curious beginning gardeners and farmers, including topics such as hand tool use, seed saving, and "what men are fitted for the business of gardening."



In one section, Henderson goes through the rhythms and chores of the year month by month, summarizing the work that will be important at that time. In April, the garden awakens completely:

book cover A golden cabbage on the book's cover

April brings nearly all the operations of the garden under way, the planting and sowing of all the hardy varieties of vegetables is completed this month. Look well to the hot beds, cold frames, or forcing pits; they will require abundance of air and (where artificial heat is used), plenty of water; we have now bright sunshine, promoting rapid vegetation under glass, and to have heavy crops, they must not be stinted in water. Hot beds are particularly critical in this month; an hour or two of neglect, in giving air, may quickly scorch the tender plants that you have been nursing with so much care for a month previous; and a balmy April day may terminate in a stinging frost at night, making short work of your hot beds if they are not well covered up by straw mats.

Plantations of Asparagus, Rhubarb, etc., if not made last month, should now be done, as those set out later than April, will not make such a vigorous growth. Succession crops of Lettuce, Beets, Cabbage, Onions, Peas, Potatoes, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips, etc., may be planted or sown during the latter part of the month to succeed those planted in March and early part of April. The early sown crops should be hoed and the ground stirred close to the young plants so as to destroy the germ of the weeds now appearing.wateringcan