April 2010

April is a busy time of the year in the garden with probably not much time available. Spring should now be in evidence, with daffodils in flower and blossom adorning trees. With longer days and stronger sunshine, growing conditions are now improving rapidly but wet days can cause considerable hold-ups in the general work. It’s an exciting month, with indoor-sown seeds well into growth, and it’s also time to start sowing outdoors. The weather can still be very changeable with thunderstorms giving heavy rain sometimes with sleet ,hail and even snow! Also we can have very warm days possible up to 21 ºC giving us a taste of Summer but beware we can have severe ground frosts especially if the ground is dry. If a sudden cold spell is forecast, protect tender plants and new shoots with a double layer of horticultural fleece. Unfortunately, Magnolia flowers can often become browned, and Acer leaves scorched by April frosts with fruit blossom also being damaged!

Some jobs to keep you busy

  • If you are planning a new lawn this year, you should now prepare the ground for sowing seed or laying turf or repairing  bare patches
  • If you haven’t done it already, the lawn is likely to need its first mow of the year. Before cutting the grass, rake with a wire rake. This will raise any buttercup or    clover runners and reduce their spread. Use a weed and feed treatment on the lawn unless you are organic. Remember to keep the blades up high on the mower so   not to cut the grass too short!
  • Weed the flower beds and apply a mulch which will improve soil fertility and help to control the weeds.
  • Slugs and snails will start to make an appearance, so sprinkle grit or egg shells around vulnerable plants, which slugs don’t like crawling across. Careful use of slug pellets would also help, although bear in mind that some wildlife rely on slugs and snails for their food source, so keep this in mind. Hide slug pellets under stones so that other animals can’t eat them.
  • Plant summer flowering bulbs.
  • Plant your tomatoes in the greenhouse.
  • Plant out second early potatoes.
  • Complete the pruning, support and tie in climbers including climbing and rambling roses. Loosen or renew any tree ties that may be digging in to the bark. We forgot to do this last year and lost a dwarf apricot tree.
  • Strawberry plants can be planted.
  • Repot houseplants and increase the water given to them.
  • Protect fruit blossom from late frosts
  • Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds
  • Start to feed citrus plants
  • Feed hungry shrubs and roses
  • Prune fig trees
  • Divide bamboos and water lilies

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