April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain -T.S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”
These opening lines from Eliot’s masterpiece were written in 1922, as the world was beginning to emerge from the Spanish Flu epidemic. The parallels between then and now are inescapable. With all that is going on in the world, how do we continue to find hope? In April the last of the snow melts, and as the month goes on, life continues to spring up from the dreary brown earth. The air is alive with birdsong and warming breezes. It is time to move aside the winter blanket of leaves and allow our spring bulbs and perennials to emerge; time to wake up our gardens with compost and tentatively place the first of our carefully-tended seedings into the soil. We wait, holding our breath, watching the sky and the weather reports to see if we need to protect our vulnerable charges from a brutal cold snap, an ice storm, or wild winds. April can be cruel, indeed, but where there are flowers, there is hope.
Local gardening guru Janet Macunovich writes “Janet’s Journal,” a column and blog for Michigan Gardener Magazine. Her most recent post from March 21 is about the trials and tribulations of gardening during a Michigan spring, titled “Your Plants Survived Winter, Only to be Snuffed Out by Spring?” Michigan Gardener Magazine will be published three times in 2022: in April, May, and June. Stop by and pick up your free copy at LTPL.
Working with herbs from one’s own bioregion opens the door to Nature’s abundance, aiding the herbalist in crafting exceptional health and beauty products. Learn more about Bevin’s small-scale seed and nut oil production business and how his focus on locally crafted ingredients became his recipe for success!
Bevin Cohen is an author, herbalist, seed saver and owner of Small House Farm in Michigan. He offers workshops and lectures across the country on the benefits of living closer to the land through seeds, herbs, and locally grown food. Bevin is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications including Mother Earth News, Hobby Farms Magazine, and The Journal of Medicinal Plant Conservation. He is the author of four books, including Saving Our Seeds, The Artisan Herbalist and his highly anticipated new book, The Complete Guide to Seed & Nut Oils.
Learn everything you need to know to raise all kinds of butterflies, along with the plants you will need to attract them. Have fun with this fascinating hobby all summer! Experience the life cycle of monarchs with stunning photographs and videos! Recommended for families with children aged 7 and older.
This program includes a seed kit to plant annuals that provide food to attract butterflies, which can be picked up at the library on Tuesday, May 3. If you would like a seed kit, please indicate in the registration form.
Carol Pasternak is an author, teacher, photographer and sought after speaker who has been raising monarch butterflies with her families for 40 years. In her free time, she can be found in ditches, meadows and forests, scouring every crevice for signs of wildlife. She encourages others to become conservation activists through her Facebook Page The Monarch Butterfly Crusader. Her book How To Raise Monarch Butterflies: A Step-by-Step Guide for Kids, has sold 50,000 copies and received international acclaim. She is currently launching her new book, 5 Butterflies. This book excites young people to rest their devices in favor of exploring our natural world.
Herb of the Month: Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum Sativum)
Cilantro is our choice for April because it loves to grow in cool weather, and it is best planted in early spring or fall. It grows quickly and is at its most flavorful when fresh, so you can succession plant until the weather gets warm. Use it in salsas, guacamole, chutneys, and soups. Dried cilantro is much milder than fresh, so if you are on the fence about it, try dried cilantro in your cooking or teas.
When warm weather hits and your cilantro plants bolt to seed, don’t yank them out. What is amazing about cilantro is that when it goes to seed, the dried seeds are the spice known as Coriander. Truly a dual purpose plant! Coriander has a completely different flavor profile than cilantro, and is often paired with other warm spices such as cinnamon for teas, curries, stews, and pickles.
Each month, we will feature a different herb or spice and provide a take-home kit that contains information about the herb, a sample and/or seed packet, instructions for use and or recipes. This month you will receive a kit with the history, lore, and properties of Cilantro, recipes, a sample package of organic dried cilantro suitable for tea or cooking, as well as a packet of seeds and growing instructions. Kits will be made available in the curbside pick-up area beginning Tuesday, April 5. To receive your kit, sign up here:
The Herb of the Month will be announced every month in the LTPL Grows newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, click here.
Seed Library News
Get ready for the Michigan Seed Library Network's annual "One Seed, One State"!
Michigan Seed Library Network’s 2022 “One Seed, One State” choice is ‘Boston Pickling’ cucumber. Libraries around the state, including the Lyon Township Public Library, will be putting out their displays over the next month. Please visit the LTPL Seed Library to pick up your seeds and brochure so you can participate in growing this special crop along with hundreds of other Michiganders!
LTPL is proud to host a Seed Library! The seed library is filled with seeds that have been donated by seed companies and local seed savers, and some purchased seed as well. The mission of the seed library is to promote gardening and encourage sustainability through seed saving. Although it is not required, we hope that you will attempt to save seeds from your crops and return them to the seed library to help keep it self-sustaining. LTPL hosts programs throughout the year to help you learn the skills to have a successful garden year. First time users of the Seed Library need to register. You may do so with this form or in-person at the seed library. Once you have registered, you log your initials and number of packets taken on the clipboard. The clipboard and instructions are on top of the Seed Library cabinet.
Curbside Pickup for the LTPL Seed Library is available. The seed library staff schedule and library closures will affect when your order is prepared and made available. You will receive an email when your seeds are ready for pickup. Please do not call or arrive to pick up your seeds until you receive the email. Limit 15 packets per curbside request. Request LTPL Seed Library Curbside Pick-up here.
Seed Database: We continue to update our seed database with new varieties! View the database here:
Gardening handouts are available at the Seed Library and also on the LTPL Grows Webpage, along with plenty of informative and entertaining videos!
April Garden Calendar
Now that most of the beneficial insects have emerged from their winter hiding places, you may clean-up the garden, adding compost and mulch where needed.
Harden-off and transplant plant hardy seedlings like onions, broccoli, cabbage, and greens and the flowers pansies, snapdragons, calendula and alyssum.
Start seeds indoors for annual vegetables and flowers that need a head-start: Tomatoes, cauliflower, and the flowers cosmos, zinnia, marigolds, and nicotiana
Direct-sow seeds for carrots, parsnips, scallions, beets, and greens, as well as the flowers calendula and alyssum.
Find additional resources to get started here:
New Gardening Books
This is a perfect resource for Michigan gardeners with its focus on fruits and nuts that can survive our northern climate.
If you have ever wondered what you can do, as an individual gardener, to improve the planet and become closer to the earth, this is an eye-opening guidebook for sustainability.
A collection of essays about sustainability, food resources, soil preservation, and the intersection of organic farming and human health.