The last week of April is a busy time for planting vegetables. You can plant seeds of cool-season crops such as beets, radish, lettuce, kale, cabbage and onions this week. It also is safe to add vegetable starts of leaf crops, such as lettuce.
Here are answers to a few reader questions.
Question: I would like to add plants to a shaded area that will have flowers in the summer. I prefer plants that do not need replanting. Please suggest some perennial plants for the shade. J. via email
Answer: Hostas are the queen of the darkness when it comes to shade-loving perennials, but a new perennial is climbing the rungs of the popularity ladder. Look for beautiful brunnera plants this month at area nurseries.
Brunnera have large colorful leaves much like a hosta but are more slug and deer resistant. Brunnera also display sky blue blossoms on airy stems in the spring and have a neat and tidy growing habit. Like hosta, the brunnera will look best in a shaded spot that has rich soil amended with compost and the plants will look their best if kept moist the first summer as they build a root system.
Other perennials that will grow in the shade are lamiums, primroses, corydalis, saxifrage and bleeding heart. For late summer and fall color, add Japanese anemone but use this aggressive perennial only in areas of dry shade — Japanese anemone is tall, dramatic and attractive but a real tramp in the garden as she will sneak into other beds uninvited.
Q: I learned (from one of your seminars) that plants with gray leaves are drought resistant, slug resistant and deer resistant. They sound like just what I need. Please give me the names of some gray foliage plants. C.R., Renton
A: You might not find fifty shades of gray at your local nursery but you will find soft gray leaves on lamb’s ear, finely cut foliage on the silver gray Artemisia and many shades of gray from various lavenders to add to the dry places in your garden. For contrast with all that shiny silver foliage, add the rich burgundy of crimson barberry or the drought resistant royal purple smoke tree.
Q: I have earwigs and sow bugs that are eating the petals of my pansies and damaging vegetable seedlings. How can I control these pests without resorting to chemicals or poisons? O.G., Enumclaw
A: You hold the answer in your hands if you’re reading a newspaper. Crumble up a wad of damp newspaper, hide a bit of potato or ripe fruit inside the folds of the paper and place this harmless trap near the damaged plants. Damp newspaper will lure earwigs, sow bugs and as a bonus, slugs and snails that all seek the cool dampness of the paper once the sun rises. In the morning collect the paper wads and you’ll find the guilty plant nibblers inside the paper.