Garden Diary - April
April is here and the sun has mostly broken through the remaining chill, which means you can start planting a lot more things outside and enjoy the warmer weather. In this diary we’ll cover all of the jobs you can be doing this April to make your garden truly thrive and look beautiful for the coming summer.
Maintenance & Protection
During April there are plenty of jobs needing to be done. We’re starting with the jobs to maintain and protect what you have already grown. Firstly you will want to protect any new shoots that have popped up from various pests, including slugs and snails; as these young plants are especially vulnerable.You should also check over your plants for aphids, making sure to brush off any you find. Especially vulnerable plants include hostas, lupins and delphiniums to name a few. Make sure to keep fleece or other insulation nearby and ready to use incase of spring frosts. If you have any bird feeders out or any nesting birds nearby then make sure to keep a fresh supply of bird feed out, as this is a busy time of year for them and they need all the energy they can get.
Some plants require special attention to thrive, such as roses which can benefit massively from a fungicide spray. As well as brassicas, such as cauliflower which can make the most of their growing period with the help of fencing around their stems to deter root flies, this can be made from cardboard, plastic sheeting etc. If you find any plants covered in aphids you can spray them with a soap and water solution, while pruning off any parts with damage; make sure to check shoot tips and young leaves as these are especially vulnerable. At this time of year seedlings are just starting to appear and these need to be protected from slugs and snails. If your seedlings are planted in rows it is also a great idea to hoe between them, to prevent any weeds from growing. While problem weeds such as brambles should be treated with weed killer to stop them from having a summer growth spurt.
When it comes to the objects and structures in your garden, there are plenty of jobs to do in April. Starting with your greenhouse or shed, now is a great time to install guttering and have it connected to a water butt, for a constant and nutrient rich supply of water. If you already have gutters installed, then instead check and clear them of any debris or mud. The glass on your greenhouse can also be cleaned to let in as much light as possible, which will help your plants to thrive. On hot days you can help to improve ventilation inside your greenhouse by opening any vents, doors or windows, this will help to bring down any sweltering temperatures.
Finally if you have a pond or other body of water you are going to want to check and clean any fountain filters or pumps before their use. Also it can be a good idea to place a bag of barley straw into the pond to help prevent algae from accumulating.
Encouraging Plant Growth & Flowering
To get the best crops, plant growth or blooms possible there are a few different things you can be doing in April. Starting with hardy perennials, like asters, hostas, etc. These can be revived and refreshed by removing and dividing up the mature plants, to then replant them into smaller batches. Allowing them more room to grow and soil to feed upon. All of your plants could use a little perk up using either a specialised feed or a general multi-purpose one. Indoor plants will benefit from this especially, as they have a limited amount of soil.
Some plants can benefit from a little bit of extra care as well. Turf is one such plant which will thrive when any moss or weeds are removed, allowing for it to then be fed with a nitrogen rich lawn feed. Fuchsia shoot tips can be pinched out to allow for larger, bushier plants to develop. Finally ponds will excel and look exceptional with some added aquatic plants such as waterlilies, to add a splash of colour and a new lease of life.
When it comes to pruning there are a few plants that will need your attention. Spring bulbs and bedding plants will need to be deadheaded, so that no energy is wasted from them trying to seed. Old hydrangea stems should be cut back to their lower healthy sections. While old ferns that have seen better days will need to be trimmed down to allow for new ferns to grow and unfurl in their place. We recommend you use a high quality pruner for these tasks.
Maintaining good plant hygiene is important, to curb any diseases or mould taking root in your plants. To do this you will want to take off any faded blooms, dead leaves, or damaged sections. If you have any fruiting plants or trees, you are going to want to thin out their fruits to leave gaps the size of your index finger between them (5-10cm). This will allow your fruit plants to focus their energy and produce juicer and larger fruit. You should also check your trees and shrubs for any unwanted suckers growing, as you will want to cut them back to as close to the tree as possible without cutting into the base tree.
During April there are loads of planting you can be doing. Starting with hardy annuals which will look great flowering in any gaps you have in your borders. Similarly primulas and polyanthus will bloom beautifully when potted, if you want a more exotic look you can plant more exotic looking plants such as eucomis bulbs, hosta or athyrium. Some flowers might need a little extra help when growing, with an added support in the form of a cane or another object to hold them up straight. Such plants include sweet peas, sunflowers & tomatoes to name a few. These plants also need a lot of sunlight and regular watering to grow bumper crops.
There are plenty of other crops you can also be planting including both second-early and maincrop potatoes. Bare-root asparagus and artichoke tubers will do well when planted, you can also transplant a lot of crops from your greenhouse into outside beds of nutrient rich soil, such as tomatoes, chillies and courgettes. Herbs can be split up into smaller groups, which will then thrive in pots, borders or herb beds. You can also extend the cropping period for a lot of your plants by planting your crops in batches, you can do this with such plants as onions, garlic, shallots etc. If you have any gaps in your vegetable beds which you wish to fill then you can effectively do so by choosing something that grows quickly, such as radishes, kale, mustard, etc. Grow bags are a great way to grow crops easily and efficiently in a limited amount of space.
When you have finished planting all of your fruit and vegetables, why not plant some spring flowering vegetation to add a little bit of extra colour and beauty into your beds. This is also a great time for laying any turf or sowing some new grass seeds into your lawn to touch up any barren spots. Finally there might also be some plants that have outgrown their container since you last potted them and these will need to be replanted into larger pots or planters to allow the plant to flourish.
There’s still a few jobs left but we’re almost done, starting with some inside sowing and planting which is perfect for your windowsill or a warm container. Softer herbs such as dill, parsley, basil, chives, fennel and coriander thrive somewhere warm and calm and can be planted in trays as well if needed. Salad leaves such as rocket will also grow well inside this time of year. You can also create hanging baskets and pots with a summer bedding that can then be moved outside once summer begins.
Although there are other plants that will do better in larger pots, sitting inside a greenhouse. These plants include sweet peas which need a deep pot and somewhere warm to grow. As well as sweet peas there are runner beans, cucumbers, courgettes, sweet corn and french beans, which will all thrive in pots. If you have any seedlings growing in pots or trays then you should prick them out, when they first start producing their leaves
Furthermore there are a number of plants which you can now take some cuttings from including basal cutting from most perennials. When taking a cutting you want to take it as low as possible and with a cut that is as clean as possible. We recommend using a high quality pair of pruners. Which you can then plant in trays or pots and keep them safe either in your house or greenhouse until they have grown enough to be moved outdoors.
Phew! And that’s all the jobs we have for April. Check out our other gardening diary for the other months as and when you need them!
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