April Gardening Tips

Pots & Borders

 

    • Apply the new liquid Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2 to pots and containers of actively growing plants, (can be used indoors and out). This is a product that you water on to the soil and protects the plant against Vine Weevil for up to 4 months, and Greenfly, Whitefly and other pests for 6 weeks. This is a fantastic help in controlling vine weevil, and many other insect pests. (Not to be used on edible crops).
    • Mulch winter heathers with cocoa shell or moss peat, [both have a low pH] to keep them happy. After flowering, trim the flowers off to keep the plants compact.
    • Plant out half hardy varieties of bedding plants such as Antirrhinum, Ten Week Stocks, Sweet Williams, Pansies and Violas.
    • Plant out Sweet Peas and provide support for them to climb.
    • Plant out tender bedding plants in only the most sheltered spots in your garden. If your garden stays cold at this time of year then it is better to resist the temptation and wait a week or two longer because chilled plants take a long time to recover from the shock. Have horticultural fleece at the ready and cover your plants to trap in the warmth when frosty nights are predicted.
    • Pinch out the shoot tips of straggly bedding and basket plants to encourage side shoots to grow. This may delay flowering a little but will dramatically improve the performance of your plants in the long run.
    • Prick-out tender bedding plants before they spoil. Harden off earlier batches by putting them out by day and in by night for about a week. They then should be safe outside but keep a watch on the weather forecast for frosts
    • Lift and wash out perennial clumps that are infested with couch grass or bindweed. Replant when you are sure that they are clean. Roundup can be used carefully to kill these weeds between clumps

 

Trees, Shrubs, Roses, Conifers, etc.

 

    • Plant frost tender shrubs such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, Santolina, Osteospermum and Hebes now.
    • Cut the old flowers off Mahonias. If you cut a little of the stem too then it may encourage more branching. Varieties that regularly produce the lovely blue berries such as M. aquifolium should not be pruned.
    • Prune winter flowering Jasmine and shrubby honeysuckle now. This will encourage new growth and give them time to initiate new flower buds for next year.
    • Tie in tender shoots of Clematis as they grow.

 

Bulbs

 

    • Remove dead flower heads from bulbs, feed with a tomato liquid feed to build up the bulbs strength for next year. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to cut the leaves off.
    • Lift and split daffodils to replant immediately. Try to avoid damaging the roots as much as you can.
    • Plant Gladioli corms and Dahlia tubers. I plant my Dahlias with 20 to 30cms (8-12 ” ) of soil above them. This means that they can stay in the ground without having to lift them out to protect them from frost in winter. Stick in a label so that you don’t end up driving your spade through them when they are dormant in winter!
    • Lift, divide and replant clumps of over crowded bulbs.

 

Greenhouse

 

    • Remove the bubble polythene double glazing from your greenhouse and check that the ventilators work. Get ready to apply a coat of Coolglass to the outside to keep the temperature under control.
    • Prune side shoots on grape vines back to five leaves on non fruiting laterals and two buds beyond flower clusters.
    • If you haven’t raised your own plants, come to us to get some tomato, pepper and cucumber plants to grow in your greenhouse. If it is unheated, keep the plants on a bright windowsill indoors for a few more days.
    • Sweet corn can be sown in cell trays inside but delay planting out until next month.*Marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes can be sown in individual pots towards the end of the month. These will need protection if sown outside.
    • Plant basil in pots or in the borders between your tomatoes. It always does better inside.

 

Wildlife & Pets

 

    • If cats are coming into your garden to use your newly tilled soil as a toilet, try our sonic pest control system to keep them out.
    • Don’t stop feeding birds now that spring is here, now they have young they are under greatest pressure and will really benefit from your help.
    • Compost heaps are great places for slow worms and occasionally grass snakes. Both are harmless and are gardeners friends as they eat many plant pests.
    • Keep a few corners wild and somewhat untidy. This will be preferred to tidy and intensively cultivated areas.
    • Use Agralan Natural Predators [available from us] to combat pests. Use Compost Tea to keep your plants healthy and protect them from disease.

 

Grow Your Own Food

 

    • Plant main crop potatoes if you haven’t already done so. Early varieties may need earthing up to exclude the light from the tubers. Cover shoots with fleece to protect from frost damage.
    • Sow Runner beans, French Dwarf Beans, Mange Tout Peas and garden Peas.
    • Protect flowers on peaches, nectarines and apricots from frost. Use a soft brush to hand pollinate blooms and increase chances of a good crop.
    • Mildew [American powdery mildew] can appear on gooseberries now. Spray with Sulphur or Systhane Fungus Fighter or better still replace susceptible varieties with a resistant one such as Invicta.
    • If your apples and pears suffered from scab last year, spray now with Systhane Fungus Fighter.
    • Plant containers up with some herbs. Avoid planting mint with other herbs as it will take over given a chance. Coriander, parsley, thyme, chives and tarragon are some of the most popular and look very decorative too!
    • It is now safe to prune plum and cherry trees. They are vulnerable to the silver leaf disease if pruned in autumn or winter.
    • Plant outdoor grape vines in well drained soils in full sun. A pH of around 6.5 -7 is preferred.
    • Sow perpetual spinach, leeks, radish, turnips, lettuces, carrots, beetroot, Swiss chard and summer cauliflowers outside.
    • Sow more peas and broad beans. Support early sown varieties. Make a first sowing of French Beans towards the end of the month. I recommend ‘Safari’. Sow Runner Beans in pots inside. Grow a heavy yielding string-less variety like ‘Enorma’ or ‘Butler’.
    • Sow vegetable varieties that have inherent pest and disease resistance- Beetroot Boltardy (doesn’t run to seed), Carrot F1 Maestro (carrot fly), Cucumber F1 Bella (mildew), Parsnip F1 Albion (rust) and the exciting new blight resistant Tomato F1 Fantasio.
    • Start spraying your vegetable plants regularly with Aston Organic Garlic Barrier. This will keep masses of pest away without everything tasting of garlic. Its’ especially good with the cabbage family.

 

Lawns, Hedges, Paths and Drives

 

    • New lawns can be sown now and thin ones can be patched up with more seed. Be prepared to take time preparing a good seedbed, it pays in the long run. Sow hard wearing ryegrass based mixtures for lawns used by children and pets but fescue and bent grass based mixes for the best looking lawn. Buy and lay turf if you are in a hurry to get a quick result.
    • Trim your lawn edges as this simple task has a remarkable effect on the overall impact of your garden. If the edges have become irregular, use a half moon edging knife (stainless steel ones are best) to sharpen them up.
    • Apply weed killers this month and next for best effect.
    • Trapping moles is the best way to get rid of this pest before it wrecks your lawn. Sonic deterrents will drive them away if used as directed

 

Soils, Mulching, Weed Control, etc.

 

    • When the soil surface is dry, hoe it with a Dutch (push) hoe to kill off any small germinating weeds that will be appearing now.
    • Mulch Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, heathers and Pieris with Ericaceous lime free compost.

 

Ponds, Wildlife, Pets and Bog Plants

 

    • Clean out dead leaves and stems from your pond. Thin out oxygenating weed and divide aquatic plants replanting the youngest sections in plastic net pots filled with peat free compost and lined with a hessian liner. Try to leave as many pond insects and animals in the water as you can.
    • Add Fountain Clear to small water features. As the days lengthen the water will often go green unless you do.
    • Add a net filled with clean barley straw to ponds where the water has become green. This usually does the trick to restore the imbalance of nutrients that fill the water in the spring.
    • Divide and replant marginal plants if they are getting over-crowded.
    • Divide and replant water lilies.
    • Regularly clean out pond filters.
    • Make sure your pond has suitable ‘steps’ for pond animals to easily get in and out. This need only be a log.