Table of Contents
  1. Well hello, friend!
  2. Let's talk about the garden.
  3. Let's talk about food.
  4. Let's talk about Kip.

Well hello, friend!

Kaleb Wyse wearing a pink shirt standing in front of yellow and orange gradient background.

How has April been for you? Depending on where you live, April may have been a vastly different story than what I’ve experienced. For me, this month has had very cold days, followed by days of unseasonable heat. The beginning of the month ushered in a period of warmth that seemed to jumpstart everything outside and ignite that spring fever within. But after a week of unusual weather and a general feeling that everything was awakening too quickly, nature swung, and we returned to the more traditional cold weather with some nights below 32ºF. The back and forth is expected for April, but I’ll be honest that I’m not good with the mood swings accompanying it.

Either way, April has brought green grass, perennials pushing through the soil, and a garden well on its way to a bountiful harvest of vegetables. I’ve taken full advantage of the good days and worked outdoors as much as possible. I’m continually reminded that while the tasks may seem overwhelming at times, the “work” feels more like fun once I start. With all of the movement, I feel better than I have in the past few months.

Plus, there’s been some movement on my renovation upstairs. You can see my update over on YouTube or watch it below!

So without further ado, I look forward to chatting about that “work,” the good, the bad, and everything in between. Grab something to drink, and let’s catch up!

Let’s talk about the garden.

April is the month when I begin to regret starting my seedlings so early. It can become quite a babysitting ordeal as I wait for the perfect weather to materialize outside.

Cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage are three cold-weather vegetables (cole crops) that can take the potential cold of early spring, so I planted these outside mid-month. And if you followed my process, you may have noticed that when I plant these outside, I cover them with plastic jugs. These covers create a mini greenhouse, so I do not have to harden them off before planting. The only worry Mom and I usually have with planting in April is how cold it will get. This year the aforementioned warm weather was overheating the jugs and scorching the seedlings inside. That’s not the usual problem I have at this time of year! I pivoted, removed the jugs as needed, then replaced them when the weather became cool. But it’s a reminder that gardening is a continual game of watching, waiting, and assessing.

Just this week, I removed all the jugs and covered the brassicas with a row cover to keep any bugs away. This cover will allow the plants to mature free from worms. I also planted rows of radishes, lettuce, kale, and kohlrabi.

In my part of the country (Iowa), the weather is still too cold to plant tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These vegetables need warm weather and, more importantly, warm soil to flourish. The important date to remember for when these can be planted is the last frost date, the day of the year when there should no longer be a chance for a nighttime frost. If you need to know your US planting zone or last frost date, simply search the internet with your zip code and the text “last frost date.” Mine is often around Mother’s Day.

For my landscaped beds, I’ve been slowly adding drip lines. Last summer, during a drought, I tried to add drip lines, and it didn’t work well. Since it was the middle of summer, the plants were blooming, which complicated my ability to weave the drip line… and I didn’t know exactly what I was doing. That taught me a lot, and I feel much more prepared for the upcoming year!

Don’t worry; I have a video coming of the drip line installation. Plus, you can see all my recent gardening videos on my YouTube gardening playlist. Enjoy!

Let’s talk about food.

With spring in full swing, I’m ready for lighter foods packed with fresh ingredients. Some of my favorites to enjoy during April are:

  • Spring pea salad with crunchy nut topping. I posted this salad, which may just be one of my favorites to date, for Easter, and it’s still on repeat. I love the crunchy, almost granola-like topping.
  • Sesame chicken and broccoli with coconut lime rice. It’s a perfect bowl, and I love having the leftovers in the refrigerator.
  • Asparagus spring salad. Rather than simply using lettuce, this salad also has microgreens paired with peas, asparagus, and red onion, all topped with an easy dressing.
  • Spring spinach salad. Talk about nostalgia! My mom would make this salad at least three times a week during the spring (and even summer). We’d go out to the garden, chop fresh spinach, pull some radishes, and prepare this easy recipe, which was pretty much our entire meal!

You’ll see a theme in the above list: when I’m not making meals, I pretty much eat some sort of salad every night. I’ll roast whatever vegetable I have on hand, whether it’s sweet potatoes, asparagus, radishes, cauliflower, or carrots, and make a quick vinaigrette to drizzle on top:

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tbsp minced shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • kosher salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup (about) vinegar or acid (like lemon juice)
  • 1/3-½ cup olive oil

I never measure precisely for my vinaigrettes but follow the same idea each time. I like things sharp and bright, so I use less oil than some may like. If you’re not into roasted vegetables, try this vinaigrette on grilled chicken or use it as a dressing.

In case you missed any recipes this month, here is a list of all new ones:

Let’s talk about Kip.

Black French bulldog standing in front of yellow and orange gradient background looking upwards.

I just looked over at Kip while writing this, and he’s staring intently at the stovetop. A pan of scones is cooling on the stove, and he’ll likely be staring until they’re put away. Kip has been enjoying the weather outside: days of running around the yard and lying in the sun. Monthly we’re still going to the University of Illinois for a Cytosar treatment but, more importantly, to monitor his liver numbers that have been too high. He hates going to the doctor, and I don’t blame him, but he is doing so well! In fact, there’s good news when it comes to his liver! Omitting one medication a month ago has helped his liver immensely, and his numbers have dropped.

Recently we switched Kip’s food to The Farmer’s Dog, and it’s like he’s a different dog. He has never enjoyed his kibble, but more recently, he was so apathetic about it. Now he cannot wait to eat and does a happy dance (seriously! lots of spinning on wonky legs) whenever the food comes out. I could not ask for a better friend. Kip is the best!

That’s all for this month of April. We’re finally on the cusp of May, where I begin to think that warm weather is here to stay! Wherever you are in the world, I hope your April was wonderful and that May is a month filled with promise!

Until next month, have a great upcoming week!

Handwritten name of Kaleb

If you enjoyed this newsletter and want a way to support me, you can send me a tip here! And thank you to everyone who tipped last month!

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I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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