With the clocks going on an hour the other weekend means we will have longer daylight hours. Spring is now with us so it could very well be the ideal opportunity to start spending more time in the greenhouse as, hopefully, warmer weather is just around the corner – well it was but now we appear to be experiencing a bit of a cold snap! April can be a busy month not only for the continued sowing of flower and vegetable seeds, but hanging baskets and containers can also start being prepared. Also if conditions are right, why not start on the lawn!
Seed of half-hardy bedding plants may be sown in trays in greenhouses or on windowsills, pricked out when large enough to handle into individual pots, remembering to water regularly and given a weekly feed. Summer bedding plants raised earlier can be planted into hanging baskets or containers and grown on in the greenhouse until moving outdoors at the end of May/early June, depending on weather conditions. A wide range of hardy annuals can be sown in their flowering positions and these would include cornflower, cosmea, echium, helichrysum, limnanthes and matthiola. Sweet Peas may also be sown outside in their flowering position. Spring flowering plants such as primroses and pansies should still be looked after by removing any dead-heads or fading flower-heads to encourage further flowers.
It’s also a good idea for plant support frames to be placed over clumps of tall perennials letting new stems grow through them which will completely hide the supports.
Begonia tubers can still be planted into pots for growing in the greenhouse, remembering to make sure the concave part of the tuber is uppermost and lightly covered with compost. A weekly feed is recommended and as they grow can be potted on. Towards the end of the month plant dahlia tubers outdoors, if weather conditions are suitable, with a 10cm (4″) covering of soil, however, if it is still cold in your area leave planting until later in the month. To prolong the flowering period of gladioli plant at intervals. For filling in gaps in the garden, lilies can be grown in pots enabling you to move them around.
A good thick layer of well-rotted organic matter can be used for mulching any type of fruit. Summer and autumn fruiting raspberries that have been newly planted should be cut back to approximately 23cm (9″) from the base. To encourage early flowers cover strawberry plants with cloches. Early rhubarb should be harvested now; remember to remove any flower spikes that may develop. Keep a check on plants for pest and disease, taking any preventative action if needed.
Many vegetables can be sown in the greenhouse to obtain an early start. Sowings can be made of runner and french beans, aubergine, capsicum, celeriac, courgette and marrow. Towards the end of April sowings of cucumber and melon may be made. Seed of tomato can also be sown now in a warm place which will provide plants for either planting out in early June or growing on in an unheated greenhouse. Herbs can be sown in the greenhouse and many can be sown outdoors. Cauliflower seedlings produced from seed sown earlier may be pricked out and placed in seed trays for growing on so plantings can be made later in spring. Continue to make sowings of carrot and lettuce on a regular basis. Second early potatoes should be planted during the early part of the month and main crop varieties towards the end. Onion Sets, along with seedlings already grown, can be planted in rows remembering to leave enough space so as you can use the hoe for weeding. If shallots haven’t already been planted they should be done so as soon as possible. Leeks can be sown in the nursery bed and then transplanted into their final rows in the summer. Plant asparagus crowns in beds that have been prepared well. Previous herb cuttings from last summer that were potted up which are now well-rooted can be potted up separately. Sweet Corn seed can be sown in warm conditions at this time so that plants will be ready for planting outside in early summer.
Provided the weather is mild and the grass is growing, applications of lawn fertilisers and weedkillers can be made to established lawns. Should moss have become a problem, treat with a moss killer. Rake out dead moss and then fork over so that growth and surface drainage will be improved. Apply lawn fertiliser to promote strong, healthy growth. Depending on growth regular mowings may be necessary. Keeping a regular check on weeds is essential so that they can be dug out. It is the best month for sowing grass seed and our Rapid Green Lawn seed will solve all your problems!
Early sowings outside may prove difficult due to the cold and wet soil at this time, therefore, by warming up the soil of prepared areas with cloches it will protect from frost and rain. It is ideal to leave the cloches in place for at least two or three weeks when the soil can be raked prior to seed sowing and planting out of young seedlings. Replace the cloches giving the young plants a good start.
Keep an eye out for slugs and snails with the use of slug pellets if needed, of course, following directions on box.
It is important to remove blanketweed with a rake so that it doesn’t take over. Check wiring and clean filters thoroughly of fountain pumps that have been stored away for the winter before placing back in the pond. Established waterlilies should be fed with a specially formulated feed.