What to do in the garden in April
- Prepare vegetable seed beds by removing all the weeds.
- Apply Ecoworm Extract if you are reusing your soil to bring it back to life.
- On heavy soil, integrate plenty of grit and organic matter. On freely drained soil, only muck and/or compost need to go in.
- Build raised beds to take bending out of growing vegetables.
- Plant maincrop potatoes. If frost threatens, pull some fleece over your potato foliage. Don’t be tempted to grow too many main crop potatoes if space is limited.
- Plant asparagus crowns and artichoke suckers.
- Thin carrot seedlings in order to have good-sized carrots. Preferably do it in the evening, when fewer carrot flies are around.
- Support pea plants by simply pushing some twiggy sticks around your plants.
- Sow carrots, peas, spinach, beetroot, winter cabbages, broccoli, salad crops.. These vegetables can be sown directly in the ground to mature where they are. Sow thinly in straight rows so that the result seedlings grow unimpeded and strong. They can also be sown into individual small pots containing a seed or multipurpose compost and planted-up in their final positions later.
- Sow seeds of sweetcorn under glass now, but use organic pots that can be planted straight into the ground, as sweetcorn is difficult to transplant.
- Sow marrows, courgettes, pumpkins, squashes in a heated greenhouse or propagator.
- Plant out onions, shallots and garlic.
- Plant tomatoes and cucumbers (under cover). Tomatoes already sown in a heated greenhouse are now ready for transplanting. The plants should be 15 to 20cm tall, with first flower buds just opening. Space them 45cm apart and water before and after planting. Keep them moist and feed them with Ecoworm Soil Extract for Tomatoes regularly. Tomato plants need support. In deep soil bed, tie them loosely to canes, or tie a soft string under the first truss and attach it to a wire running horizontally above the plants. Twist the stems gently around the string as they grow.
- Prepare trenches for celery.
- If any rhubarb flowers appear, cut them out near the base, or they will steal energy and food from the plant.
- Keep on thinning seedlings.
- Place cardboard collars around the stems of brassicas to deter cabbage root fly from laying their eggs.
- Sow herbs such as parsley, coriander, dill and chamomile in a sunny bed or container.
- Protect emerging seedlings from slugs and snails.
- Protect fruit blossom from late frosts by covering them with fleece on cold nights.
- Feed raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees with Ecoworm Soil Extract to encourage good crops this season.
- Water all new planted fruit trees in drying wind.
- Start thinning the young fruitlets of peaches and apricots towards the end of April, as the trees produce much more than they can cope with. Thinning should take place over several weeks, starting when fruitlets are the size of large peas and stopping when they are about as large as walnuts.
- Prune fig trees.
- Start feeding citrus plants with Ecoworm Soil Extract.
- Keep an eye out for any pests and take corrective action.
- Check tree ties to prevent rocking.
- Remove and burn any grease-bands put on fruit trees last autumn. Various pests-woolly aphid and winter moth might have been trapped in the sticky band while making their way up to the trunks to lay eggs.
- Cut summer and autumn fruiting raspberries to approximately 23cm from base.
- Cover strawberry plants with cloches to encourage early flowers. Ensure they are well watered if the weather is dry. Feed the plants with Ecoworm Soil Extract, which is high in potassium to encourage growth.
- Ventilate any strawberries that are being covered to produce early crops when the weather is warm (when the sun is shining). Otherwise, plants will suffer if it gets too hot and also might attract pests and disease.
- Apply Ecoworm Soil Extract to your lawn, for a boost to the start of the season. (click here to read more).
- For instant lawn, lay new turf this month, and keep it moist until it is established.
- Sow lawn seed now on well-prepared soil and keep the soil moist while it germinates.
- Repair any bare patches in your lawn. The bare soil should be vigorously raked or lightly pricked over with a fork to loosen the surface. Sprinkle on some grass seed mixed with sifted soil, and water well.
- Aerate compacted areas of lawn, by spiking it with a garden fork.
- Dig out any perennial weeds.
- Mow your lawn more regularly. Lower the blades towards the end of the month.
- Recut lawn edges to straighten them up.
TREES & BUSHES
- Plant conifers and evergreen trees and shrubs, as April is the best time to do so. As the soil begins to warm up the roots will soon start to grow.
- Prune spring flowering and grey leaved shrubs.
- Propagate shrubs by layering.
- Feed existing rose beds, trees and shrubs with Ecoworm Soil Extract.
- Feed and water roses. Remove hungry weeds. From their second year onwards, roses can be mulched to keep moisture in the soil, provide protection from weeds and add extra nutrients.
- Sow hardy annuals in April. Choose a windless day, so the fine seeds don’t blow away.
- Plant the seeds of herbaceous perennial plants. They can either go direct into the ground or into pots or trays. Sow thinly and plant the resulting seedlings in nursery rows about 30cm apart when they are about 10cm tall. Plant them out in their final positions in the late summer or autumn.
- Sow half hardy annuals, but under a frame or cloche because they can be killed by a lightest frost. Once they germinate, give them all the ventilation you can, given that the outside temperature is reasonably warm.
- Divide hostas before they come into leaf.
- Plant violas and pansies. Light shade is much appreciated, as well as watering at the first sign of dry weather.
- Pinch out the tips of fuchsia shoots, and sweet pea plants, to encourage bushy plants this summer.
- Plant antirrhinums, which were sown in winter or propagated from cuttings last autumn, given that they were hardened off first. Make sure that severe frost is over, or you might lose the plants.
- Check your plants in the containers to see if they are pot bound and need potting on into larger containers. The ones that have reached their full size might need to be re-potted into fresh compost.
- Divide primroses once they have finished flowering.
- Tie in climbing and rambling roses.
- Tie in new honeysuckle and clematis stems. These plants will be growing now and you will need to train them along their supports.
- Deadhead daffodil and other narcissus flowers that have begun to wither, as this will prevent the heads producing seeds and weakening the bulbs. Do not remove any of the foliage or stem, while it is still green and healthy. Leave it until it has started to turn yellow. Apply Ecoworm Soil Extract.
- Deadhead daffodils and tulips as the flowers finish, but leave foliage intact, allowing it die back naturally.
- Finish cutting back any dead foliage on perennials and ornamental grasses, to make way for new growth.
- Trim winter-flowering heathers, as the flowers disappear in order to prevent plants becoming leggy.
- Feed your perennials, trees and shrubs with Ecoworm Soil Extract.
What to do in the garden in May