April Tips

The Ornamental Garden

  • Use horticultural fleece to protect tender shoots when frost is forecast. Plants that may be hit by spring frosts include Pieris, Japanese Maples, Camellias, Magnolias, Hydrangeas, bedding plants, lettuce, potatoes and beans.
  • Plant frost tender shrubs such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary, Santolina, Osteospermum and Hebes now. They will be well established by autumn and overwinter so much better.
  • 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. Early flowering shrubs like Forsythia, Currants and flowering quince can be pruned back after flowering.
  • Tie in tender shoots of Clematis as they grow. Watch out for slug and snail damage. Put down slug pellets* or use natural predators.
  • Remove winter protection from tender and exotic plants like bananas and tree ferns.
  • Plant up pots and containers to brighten up dull corners. Violas and Pansies look great but soon summer bedding plants will be available.
  • Mulch winter flowering heathers with ericaceous compost (which has a low pH). After flowering, trim the dead heads off to keep the plants compact.
  • 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 iron (stainless steel ones are best) to sharpen them up.
  • Apply lawn weed killers, such as Weedol Lawn Weedkiller* (formerly Verdone), 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.
  • Apply lawn dressing to even out bumps and hollows in your lawn.

The Greenhouse

  • Remove the bubble polythene double glazing from your greenhouse, clean the glass and check that the ventilators work. Get ready to apply a coat of Greenhouse Shading 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. Peat pots are very good for this.
  • Plant basil in pots or in the borders between your tomatoes. It always does better inside.
  • Feed citrus plants with a higher nitrogen liquid feed.
  • Consider buying a cold frame to ease the strain on space in your greenhouse at this time of the year. It is ideal for hardening plants off prior to planting them outside.

The Inside Garden

  • Pot indoor plants into bigger pots but check that they need it first! Gently knock the plant out of the pot and, if the roots are covering most of the compost, the plant will benefit from moving into a pot one or two sizes bigger. If they aren’t yet then wait a while.
  • Increase frequency of feeding using high nitrogen feed (Baby Bio) for plants grown for their attractive leaves and high potash feed (Miracle-gro) for those grown for their flowers.

The Kitchen Garden

  • Plant main crop potatoes. Early varieties may need earthing up to exclude the light from the tubers. Cover shoots with fleece to protect from frost damage.
  • Sow more peas and broad beans. Support early sown varieties. Make a first sowing of French Beans towards the end of the month. We recommend ‘Safari’. Sow Runner Beans in pots or ‘Rootrainers’ inside. Grow a heavy yielding string-less variety like ‘Butler or ‘Moonlight’’.
  • Sow vegetable varieties that have inherent pest and disease resistance- Beetroot Boltardy (doesn’t run to seed), Carrot F1 Resistafly (carrot fly), Parsnip F1 Albion (rust and Canker), Cabbage Kilazol (Club root resistant), Onion Santero F1 (Downy mildew), and the NEW blight resistant Tomato F1 Crimson Crush.
  • Start spraying your vegetable plants regularly with Garlic Wonder* this will keep masses of pests away without tasting of garlic. It’s especially good with the cabbage family. We stock SB Invigorator* for this too and it also gives good results without using chemicals.
  • Sow perpetual spinach, leeks, radish, turnips, lettuces, carrots, beetroot, Swiss chard and summer cauliflowers outside. We have lots of these as ready-to-plant young plants too.
  • Protect flowers on peaches, nectarines and apricots from frost. Use a soft brush to hand pollinate blooms and increase chances of a good crop.
  • 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.
  • 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! Keep them by the backdoor for easy access.
  • Give blackcurrants, blackberries and other hybrid berries a top dressing of sulphate of ammonia.
  • Pot grown fruit trees and bushes can still be planted this month but it’s getting late!
  • Check blackcurrants for reversion virus. If affected, bushes will not crop. Infected plants produce flowers that are redder [no hairs] and leaves that have less points on the margins and of course no fruit on the branches. Dig out and burn infected plants and plant new ones.

The Wildlife Garden

  • 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 gardener’s friends as they eat many plant pests.
  • Keep a few corners wild and somewhat untidy. This will be preferred by wildlife to tidy and intensively cultivated areas.
  • Use Agralan Natural Predators to combat pests. You can order them from us and have them sent to your door on a day that suits you.
  • Use our Compost Tea to keep your plants healthy and protect them from disease. Ask about brewing dates.
  • Use Organic Garlic Wonder and SB Invigorator* rather than chemicals to control pests without harming wildlife.
  • It’s not too late to hang up bird nesting boxes. We have a great range.
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