The BPI Bulletin - April 2020

Published on Monday, April 6, 2020


April Gardening tips for the Upper Midwest

  • Apply organic matter, compost, and manure to soil.

  • Seed cool-season vegetables outside, such as beets, peas, lettuce, collards, turnips, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprout, Swiss chard, kale, kohlrabi, onions, parsley, parsnips, radishes, and spinach. (See the Best Dates to Plant chart on

  • Cover tender plants if late frost is in the forecast.

  • Start tomato seeds indoors.

  • Plant broccoli plants and early cabbage outdoors.

  • Sow your cool-season vegetables in succession so you can have a steady harvest throughout the growing season.

  • Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.

  • Sow seeds of hardy annual flowers (larkspur, California poppy, sweet pea).

  • Plant pansies.

  • Begin fertilizing houseplants again.

  • Clean up your garden. Rake up any leaves, remove winter mulch, remove any dead plants, and mix in compost in your garden soil.

  • Fertilize the lawn.

  • Fertilize roses, raspberries, and woody plants.

  • Plant potatoes.

  • Mow your ground covers to remove any winter damage. Fertilize and water the ground covers to encourage growth.

  • Cut back flower stalks on your spring-flowering bulbs as the flowers begin to fade.

  • Finish pruning fruit trees, roses, raspberries, grapevines.

  • Start looking for tent caterpillar nests in fruit trees and remove.

  • Plant new trees for Earth Day.

  • Apply horticultural oil to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year.

  • Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia, after they have finished flowering.

  • Divide perennials that are overcrowded.

  • Thin out crowded seedlings of cool-season vegetables, such as beets, carrots, and lettuce.

  • Begin setting out transplants of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Social Distancing

Social Distancing Activities

Even though you can't physically hang out with your friends right now, there are still fun things you can do together of the remote variety.

You've probably already participated in some type of virtual happy hour and if not grab a glass of wine and set up a Zoom meeting with your friends ASAP. That is not the only online activity you can do with your friends. Below are some innovative ways people are hanging out in the current age of social distancing.

  • Hold a cooking competition - Organize a Chopped-style at home cook-off with a few of your friends over Zoom. Judge based on presentation and creativity (unfortunately you can't taste test to judge).

  • Have a virtual sweat mesh together - Get some friends together everyday at a certain time and either use Zoom or FaceBook to hold an at home excersize class together, you can even take turns on what you do and who leads the class.

  • Do a group crossword puzzle - Signup for a daily crossword puzzle then set a time to Skype or Zoom your friends and you all work on completing the puzzle together every day while talking.

  • Throw a Netflix Party - Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online. Netflix Party synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to your favorite Netflix shows. Use Netflix Party to link up with friends and host long distance movie nights and TV watch parties today! Go to

  • Start a book club - Get a group of friends together every week for a virtual book club. Use Skype or Zoom and choose a book that you will all read and discuss each week.


Use the time of social distancing to get outdoors and learn some new skills or improve on ones that you already have.

  • Learn to use a map and compass - Start with something basic, fun and useful: like a map and compass.

    “Navigating the backcountry with a map and compass is actually an essential skill for every outdoorsman,” said Jeremy Mutrux, a camping specialist for Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s, the two behemoths of sporting goods retail. “But it’s also fun to learn and fun to do.”

     “The first lies in being able to correctly identify your current position on the map,” he said. “Hilltops, rivers and trails are all common features that will help you recognize where you are.

    “The second part lies in understanding that the needle of your compass always points toward the magnetic north pole. Knowing that allows you to properly orient the map. And that is a key to land navigation.”

  • Learn to navigate by the stars - There are other ways to find your way around outside. On a cloudless night, simply look up. The stars will show you the way.

    The simplest way to use the stars for navigation is to locate Polaris, the North Star or Pole Star. This star is located in Ursa Minor (aka the Little Dipper), and always holds the same position in the sky.

  • Learn to start a fire - Another basic and fun field skill is starting a campfire,. It's a simple enough chore when working in dry conditions. But outside isn’t always dry.

    Start with some basic preparation. That includes homemade or purchased fire starters and waterproof matches or a lighter.

    If you don’t have those essentials try gathering dead twigs from under limbs or from thick evergreen trees, which can often shed most of the rain. You can also peel back the bark on large trees and collect the dry bark underneath the damp outer pieces. But start small and take your time to allow bigger, damper, pieces of wood to completely dry before adding more. It’s fun. And satisfying.”

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