Things to do in a South Florida garden for the month of April
Spring time in Miami means appreciating the last of the nice weather before the rain, heat, humidity and bugs settle in for the next six months. In the garden, the warm season plants like peppers, tomatoes and eggplants we put in during the growing season are peaking. Hornworms are also aplenty. The cool season leafy greens are either bolting or riddled with aphids but for sure on its way out. For April, I’ll be doing the following things in the garden:
Monitoring for Pests
Rising temperatures mean bugs are becoming more active, I stay ahead of garden pests by keeping our eyes peeled for them when watering. Aphids loves the tender new shoots on the leafy greens and especially the cowpeas and yarding beans. I can always count on the Southern White butterflies to pay a visit to the brassicas. Once the little eggs they laid on the underside of the kale and broccoli plants hatched, those voracious little buggers can wipe out entire plant in no time at all. I keep my eyes extra keen for hornworms on the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. I pick them to give to the birds and lizards in the garden. If I happen to find one with rice grains attached on the back, I leave that one alone because he’s pretty much done for. They’re parasitic wasp eggs feeding on the hornworm.
Manage Diseases on Plants
With the warming weather and increased humidity, check for diseases on plants. Prune away affected leaves or remove plants all together and chuck it in the trash. Don’t compost. For plants affected by nematodes as well, be sure to remove all the affected roots. Till the soil to expose any remnant roots to sun and wind to dry out the nematodes.
Mulch and Provide Shelter
I mulch and provide shelter for heat sensitive plants in anticipation of longer and more intense sun exposure. I plant leafy greens like blue feather lettuce on the east side of our yardlong bean trellis. Mulching helps conserve water.
Pruning Fruit Trees
If we haven’t already prune back fruit trees like starfruit, jujube and guavas after harvesting the last of the fruits, April is the month prune them back. This is especially important because some of the fruit trees will soon push out blossoms for the second crop.
Late in April, we usually get swamped with weeks after weeks of nonstop rain. It’s important to dial our irrigation back to save water and reduce the chance of diseases that lead to root rot for many of our plants.
Transition to Warm Weather Vegetables
In April, we enjoy the last of our cool season veggies and is full transition mode preparing our garden beds for warm weather vegetables and tropical edibles. I pull out some of the bolting plants I’m not planning on saving seeds and those too riddled with bugs to salvage. Then I replenish our garden beds with a layer of compost for the new warm season plants going in. The following is a list of warm season edibles to plant in a South Florida garden for the month of April.