How did April come round so fast? It was only yesterday that we were trying our very best not to get seed-sowing happy. And now it’s seed explosion and everything is starting to grow very quickly. Hopefully you will have spent February and March prepping the garden with pruning, mulching, digging and cleaning. If not, don’t panic! Tackle a little bit at a time.
You might have just taken over an allotment, in which case we recommend you choose a small area to work on this year round, and cover the rest with black tarpaulin, mainly so you don’t feel overwhelmed; but also because every allotment has that one person who will kindly tell you that the weeds on your plot are setting seed on his. Prevention is the best medication.
Moving on! Here is what you can be getting on with in the month of April
In the garden
- Plant summer bulbs such as lily and gladiolus; also pot up dahlia tubers.
- Plant our half-hardy annuals such as cosmos; place them in a sheltered position to begin with.
- Prune winter-flowering heather as the flowers die.
- Pot on cuttings from last summer and autumn such as verbena or pelargoniums.
- Plant out sweet peas sowed in the autumn.
- Divide herbaceous perennials such as hostas.
- Tie back climbing or rambling roses.
- Feed roses and shrubs.
- Last chance to cut back shrubs
- Prune buddleia and hydrangeas.
In the kitchen garden
- Dig in compost or manure into your beds to prepare for the growing season. It is very likely that, if you live near the countryside, you will notice an ever present smell; that will the farms. Take that as a sign to mulch your beds if you haven’t done so already.
- Mulch around fruit trees with manure and feed citrus trees.
- Protect fruit blossom from frosts – we can still have them until May in the UK.
- Plant out your chitted potatoes. The rule of thumb many people follow is to plant out the main crop on Good Friday. I can plant earlies and second earlies prior to that.
- Plant out strawberry plants. If you have bought them bare root, pot them up first to revive them under controlled conditions and then plant them out.
- Plant out broad beans, onions, shallots and garlic.
- Harvest rhubarb and asparagus.
It is finally warm enough to start sewing many of your seeds directly. In some areas of the country where it might still be cold, such as the North and Scotland, you might want to use cloches to warm up the soil a little prior to sowing your seed.
If you are sowing indoors, remember to turn your seedlings if they have a tendency to lean towards the window. This means that the source of light is not strong enough and they are reaching to get as much as possible.
- Swiss chard
- Harden plants off in protected conditions
- Sow lawn seeds now. Keep soil moist while germination occurs. Apply nitrogen high in nitrogen, aerate compacted areas by spiking with fork and mow at high blade level.
- Check that self-seeding annuals are where you want them to be
- Top dress beds and containers with fresh compost or top soil.
- Remove frost-damaged twigs from evergreens.
- Deal with weeds as soon as they appear
- Soon you will start to spot aphids – research your preferred way to deal with them. Attract beneficial insects such as ladybirds, as they will feast on them!
- Protect young plants from frosts and slugs.
- Deal with weeds as soon as they appear. Keep hoe handy.
- Remove blanket weed from your pond, but be careful with frog spawn!
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!