4. .. April

 

Kitchen Garden

  • Watch out for late frosts: protect tender plants with fleece.
  • Tidy borders.  Weed ‘defensively’ by pulling up weeds before they flower.
  • Keep pests off brassica and carrots by covering crops with horticultural fleece.
  • Look out for early aphid attack.  Prompt treatment helps prevent colonies establishing.
  • Feed with a general–purpose fertiliser like bone or fish meal.
  • Apply mulch and put up supports for perennials.
  • Remove flowers from strawberry plants planted after September last year.
  • Formative pruning of plum & cherry trees can start once leaf buds open.
  • Plant out pot-grown broad beans 6-9 inches (15-23 cm) apart, after hardening them off.  Space rows 18 inches (45cm) apart.

 

Sow Directly

April is ideal to sow a wide range seeded crops directly into prepared drills, including:

  • beetroot
  • brassica
  • broad beans
  • carrot
  • coriander
  • khol rabi
  • leeks
  • lettuce
  • parsley
  • parsnip
  • peas
  • radish
  • spinach
  • spring onions
  • swiss chard
  • summer cauliflower
  • turnip
  • Plant ‘softneck’ garlic such as ‘Picardy Wight’ up to the end of April.  Soft-neck garlic have no flower spikes and often have more cloves to a bulb than ‘hard-neck’ types.
  • Finish planting onion and shallot sets by mid-April.
  • Plant chitted potato tubers in April, starting with first earlies through to main crops at the end of the month.  Continue planting potatoes; plant second early potatoes early in the month, and main cropping potatoes towards the end of the month.

 

  • Throughout April continue direct-sowing seeded vegetables as listed above.
  • Towards the end of April watch out for the caterpillar-like larvae of gooseberry sawfly, which can defoliate gooseberry and red and white currant bushes.

 

Sow Indoors / Under Glass 

  • Sow indoors early April: tomatoes, cucumber, celery and celeriac
  • Sow indoors late April: zucchini, marrow, squashes and pumpkins & runner and French beans.
  • Pot tomato seedlings into individual pots when the first true leaves appear.
  • Sow leeks and brassica.
  • Sow chard, coriander, parley in a cold greenhouse to plant out later.
  • Sow tender vegetables indoors, such as

 

Harvest

 

Flower / Ornamental Garden

  • Remove faded daffodil and tulip flowers, leaving leaves to die back naturally.
  • Trim lavender: take out old flower stems and shorten stems by 1 inch (2.5 cm) if not done in the autumn.
  • To ensure good flowering, feed and fertilise roses.
  • Inspect roses for black spot; remove affected leaves; use fungicide (RHS, The Garden, April 2013, p.29)
  • Spray new foliage of roses against rose mildew using products with a physical action, such as ‘SB Plant Invigorator’ (RHS, The Garden, April 2015, p.29)
  • Prune forsythia after flowering has finished.
  • Remove frost-damaged growth from shrubs.
  • Plant wildflower plugs like cowslip and primrose into unfertilised ground for naturalising.

 

Sow Outdoors 

  • Direct-sow annuals such as sunflowers, California poppies, poached egg plants and pot marigolds.
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies, cannas, dahlias, gladiola, nerines etc
  • Sweet peas can be direct-sown in April.

 

Division & Cuttings

  • Divide and replant herbaceous perennials.

 

Wild Things

  • Look out for new life.  Mammals (squirrels, rabbits, foxes, mice etc) as well as frogs, birds and insects are busy breeding and nesting at this time of year.
  • Warm sunshine brings out butterflies such as brimstone and comma butterflies.
  • In evenings young fox cubs may be spotted.
  • Bats emerge from hibernation when night temperatures rise about 5 degrees C.
  • Migrant birds from Africa to the UK can now be heard in the dawn chorus, including house martin and swift.
  • Cuckoos and swallows are due back in Britain in late April or early May.
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