April’s a busy time in the garden


Jill and I have been busy at Ivy Cottage over the past few weeks taking advantage of the slightly better weather. At long last it’s been dry enough for us to get on with the back garden where we’ve been busy clearing masses of ivy, digging out huge lumps of stone and rubble that were buried in an old pond. We’ve now laid some old stone paving, built a dry-stone wall, shaped new borders and done the exciting part of planting. The back is by no means finished, but at last we feel that we’ve made a good start.

My next priority is in the greenhouse. For the past 18-months the floor has consisted of black landscape fabric which I’m going to replace with proper paved paths which will incorporate some lovely old black and terracotta quarry tiles that we’ve also dug up in the garden. I want it all finished in time for planting tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in early May – watch this space!

Come mid-April, we start the new show season and our first outing will be to RHS Harlow Carr for the Spring Gardening Weekend on 12-14 April. Jill and I will be on the Potting Shed Stage cooking up seasonal produce and we’ll be joined over the weekend by Jonathan Moseley, Paula Routledge and some of the RHS gardeners.  www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/harlow-carr/whats-on/spring-garden-weekend

Then it’s onto The Harrogate Spring Flower Show on 25-28 April where I’m hosting and giving talks on the Grow stage in the Hall 1 along with Sarah Hopps, Helen Bainbridge and Jonathan Moseley. https://www.flowershow.org.uk/spring-show/

If you’re planning to be at either event, please come along and say hello.

Jobs for April

Now the garden is properly starting to wake up after a dull, wet winter you can feed plants such as shrubs, roses and perennials in the borders with a general fertiliser to give them a much needed boost. Fertilisers such as Growmore, dried poultry pellets or blood fish & bone are perfect and simple to sprinkle around the plants and hoe into the soil surface.

In some areas daffodils haven’t flowered as well as normal this spring, which I think may be down to the wet autumn & winter. To help build up the bulbs for next year, remove any dead flower heads and feed around the plants with a little fertiliser, then let them die back naturally.

The grass is growing now, so to keep your lawns in trim try to mow little and often, ideally once a week. This helps to thicken up the grass, helping to prevent weeds from establishing.

Hardy annuals such as cosmos, calendula, nigella and larkspur are easy to grow and provide masses of colour over the summer, as well as attracting pollinating insects. Their seeds can be sown directly into the garden through April where you want them to flower.

Now the days are getting longer and brighter, check your houseplants over and cut off any dead or damaged leaves and then start to feed them every couple of weeks to promote new healthy growth.

Keep on top of weeding. Seedling weeds in beds and borders can simply be chopped off with a hoe on a dry sunny day and left to wilt.

For me April is the start of gardening in the veg plot and with the soil gradually warming up it’s the perfect time to start sowing into the garden. Carrots, beetroot, parsnips, spring onions, lettuce, salad leaves, spinach and peas can all be sown directly into prepared soil.

With brassicas, such as cabbage, kale, cauliflower & Brussels sprouts, I prefer to start the seed off in small cell trays in the cold greenhouse to produce young plant for planting out in May.

Plant seed potatoes into the garden starting with first earlies, followed by second earlies and maincrop varieties in a couple of weeks time. Alternatively, you can plant potatoes in large pots with great results. I would plant one tuber into a 10-litre pot of compost.

From mid to late April you can start sowing French beans, runner beans, courgettes and sweetcorn in cell trays or pots in a frost-free place to have plants ready for planting out in late May when the frosts have finished.

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