April gardening tips

April gardening tips

April gardening tips


It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on the weather during April. Frosts are still common, and many plants and flowers may need protection in the form of fleece or cloches.
As the weather gets warmer, the weeds will grow in earnest. Regular weeding, before they
become established, is important.

Direct sow wildflower seed mixtures – they’re great for bees and butterflies and they add colour too.

Apply a layer of mulch around your perennials, trees and shrubs before the hot weather arrives. Use organic matter such as well-rotted manure.

Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced, slow-release fertiliser by lightly forking it into the soil surface. Roses are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth.

Divide Primroses after they have finished flowering.

Continue to plant herbaceous perennials.

If any of your garden plants will need supporting this year, put the supports in now so the plants grow up through them. Adding supports afterwards is difficult and and may damage the plant.

Tie in climbing and rambling roses to their supports.

Honeysuckle and Clematis will now be putting on growth, tie in new stems to train the plant along its support.

Check any tree ties to make sure the tie is not cutting into the trunk. Loosen any that are tight to allow the trunk room to expand.

Prune your Penstemons now – cut all the old shoots back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant. If there are no new shoots at the base, cut just above the lowest set of leaves.

If you haven’t done so already, finish cutting back any dead foliage left on your perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth.

Prune Forsythia as soon as they have finished flowering, cutting back to strong young shoots.

Trim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers disappear, to prevent the plants becoming leggy.

Continue to remove any faded flowers from your winter pansies to stop them setting seed. This will encourage flushes of new flowers throughout the spring

IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN


Seedlings that have been started indoors but are to be grown outside can be hardened off on warm still days. Place them outside during the day, but take them in again late afternoon, and do this for about a week or so. This way they will get used to the cooler conditions before being planted outside.

Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all weeds and forking in plenty of compost. Cover prepared soil with sheets of black plastic to keep it drier and warmer in preparation for planting.

Plant your chitted potatoes outside in the ground 10-15 cm below the surface or in potato grow bags.

For something long-lasting in your vegetable plot try direct sowing globe artichokes outdoors. Now is the perfect time to sow seed. Tubers of Jerusalem Artichokes can also be planted out now.

Sow beetroot seeds directly into well-prepared seedbeds outdoors.

Sow broad beans directly into the ground for a delicious summer crop.

Start sowing Brussels sprouts and broccoli directly into seed beds outside.

Direct sow summer and autumn cabbages such as ‘Greyhound’ into well prepared beds outdoors. Towards the end of the month, cauliflower seeds can be sown outdoors too.

Sow herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers indoors.

Direct sow carrots in rows outdoors, making sure the soil remains moist for good germination.

 

 


Finish sowing leeks in their final positions outdoors.

Direct sow some pak choi outdoors for a taste of the orient.

Sow your parsnip seeds outdoors now. Sow 3 or 4 seeds every 20cm and thin to the strongest plant.

Sow peas directly into the ground, or start them off in modules if mice are a problem. Stagger sowings over several weeks, allowing about 20 plants per person, for a longer harvest period.

Sow radish seeds directly into the soil for your first salad of the season.

Continue to sow spinach seeds in seedbeds enriched with plenty of organic matter.

Sow spring onion seeds in drills outdoors for a quick crop to add to salads and stir fries.

Start to sow swede seeds outdoors in a rich fertile soil.

Try Swiss chard sown outdoors for a colourful crop – they even look great in flowerbeds!

Sow herbs such as chives, coriander, dill and parsley directly into the ground or in containers indoors.

Plant out onion sets, shallot sets and garlic cloves for crops this summer. Now is your last chance to order onion, shallots and garlic for spring planting.

IN THE GREENHOUSE


Sunflowers can be sown now in pots indoors or direct sown into garden borders.

Nasturtiums can be sown in pots and modules now. For the best flowers plant out in poor soil after all risk of frost has passed.

Finish sowing Petunia seeds under cover this month to ensure the plants reach a good size in time for the summer.

If you’re looking to attract bees and butterflies to your garden this year sow some Scabiosa seed under cover now. They also make great cut flowers!

Sow marigolds now in warmth to brighten up your summer bedding.

Finish sowing summer bedding plants such as Salvia, Ageratum and Zinnia this month to ensure a vibrant display this summer.

Sow aubergine seeds under glass now for growing in the greenhouse or transplanting outdoors later on.

Sow basil seeds in warmth now to protect them from frost.

Finish sowing celery and celeriac seeds under glass.

  


Start to sow courgette, marrow, squash and pumpkin seeds under cover.

Sow cucumbers and gherkins towards the end of the month, sowing the seeds in individual pots or modules in the greenhouse.

Try sowing lettuce in module trays under glass for transplanting in the garden later. Alternatively sow direct outside and thin out the seedlings.

Sow seeds of perennial herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme and lemon balm in the greenhouse.

Sow runner beans and French beans under cover at the end of the month, sowing individually into module trays.

Now is your last chance to order strawberry plants for the coming season. You can also sow strawberry seeds in the greenhouse now.

Start off sweet corn seeds now in modules under cover for planting out after all risk of frost has passed.

There is still plenty of time to sow sweet pepper seeds in the greenhouse for bountiful summer crops.

IN THE FRUIT GARDEN


Plant out pot-grown fruit trees and bushes.

Continue to plant raspberry canes and blackberry canes before hotter weather arrives.

Apply a slow-release fertiliser around the base of your raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage good crops this season.

Plant out strawberry beds, making sure you enrich the soil first with plenty of well-rotted manure. Place cloches over your strawberry plants for earlier crops.

Protect your fruit blossom from late frosts by covering them with fleece on cold nights.

Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk. Top-dress patio dwarf fruit trees with fresh compost and a slow-release fertiliser.

Old English garden in spring