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April garden tips

Garden tips for April


 

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.

 


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.

Finish sowing leeks in their final positions outdoors.

IN THE FRUIT GARDEN


Blueberries are very easy to grow and are a delicious snacking fruit. Grow varieties that ripen at different times to give you berries throughout the summer.

Plant strawberry plants and cover with a cloche to encourage earlier fruiting. Buying plants rather than runners will give you a better chance of strawberries this year.

Plant apple treescherry trees and other fruit trees now in a sunny, sheltered spot.

 

IN THE GREENHOUSE


Start sowing your bedding plant seeds now ready to plant out after the last frosts.

For better seed germination in cold weather, try using an electric propagator to help your early sowings along.

Pot on rooted cuttings of tender perennial plants taken last summer.

Move plants from the greenhouse to a cold frame before planting out to give them time to adjust to cooler temperatures.

Ventilate greenhouses and cold frames on warm days.

Sow tomato seeds in a heated greenhouse for early crops.

 

April gardening tips