April in Seattle can bring many things, but almost certainly among them is rain. With some thoughtful gardening, you can ensure those April showers do lead to May flowers and not just May weeds and pests.
You can continue sowing early season crops like broccoli, some types of cabbage and kale. Salad greens and herbs like cilantro, dill and chard are also good to plant now. As these early crops begin to ripen, you can start harvesting them for fresh salads and other dishes. If the soil is dry enough, you can add beets, carrots and radishes.
On the more decorative side, you can add annuals to fill in bare spots in the garden. Try ones that will attract bees like alyssum or calendula.
As the garden starts to come back to life, so do all the little critters who love to eat it. One pest that loves this time of year are slugs, which hatch hungry and ready to feast on your garden.
Before resorting to harsh poisons that can sicken pets, children and others, try other, less toxic options first.
The most basic thing you can do is keep a tidy garden. Slugs need somewhere to hide during the day, so removing those shelters makes their lives harder. Clear away debris in the garden and keep on top of your weeding (more on that later) as a way to “slug proof” your plot. You can also water in the morning to make things less hospitable for those night creatures.
If deterrents aren’t enough, you can create traps by burying a plastic container up to the rim and filling it with two to three inches of beer. The smell of yeast will attract slugs to a watery doom. To prevent pets or kids from imbibing, you can instead cut a two-inch hole in the container at ground level and put a lid on the top. Make sure to clean it out regularly!
You can also put a copper band around plants or plant receptacles to repel slugs with an electric shock.
If all else fails, you can remove slugs by hand after dark, catching them in the act. Either that or get a duck! They love to snack on slugs and Seattle allows up to eight domestic fowl per lot.
As obnoxious as it is, one good way to help prevent infestations by slugs or other pests is to keep up with your weeding. Weeds offer habitat for them and can also harbor diseases that harm plants. The weeds also compete for light and water, weakening adjacent plants.
It’s best to get weeds early before they can really establish themselves. Make sure to remove the full root system when possible to save yourself trouble later. And definitely get them before they go to seed and spread more of themselves around the garden.
Try different tools to find the one that works best for you. One trick is to take advantage of this month’s plentiful showers and weed when the soil is soft and moist. Just remember to wear clothes that you’re fine with getting muddy!
As with any pest, an ounce of prevention goes a long way to saving you work later. Putting down a layer of organic mulch two to four inches thick will help stop weeds from growing. Just make sure to keep it away from the trunks of trees and bushes.
If you use sprinklers in your garden, consider switching to more targeted drip irrigation. As well as being better for the environment, it only distributes water where needed — not to pesky weeds. If you want to find out more about installing eco-friendly drip irrigation, give us a call at 206-551-9872.