Well, how’s the weather been with you? In the last week or two the sun has shone and it’s been glorious gardening in Norfolk!
The weather seems pretty settled, though it’s April, so things can be wet and windy…. If, like me, you might still be a bit behind with one or two things, my first tip won’t be a surprise!
Take a look at my last list of tips and see if any still need to be done, as the warmer weather might encourage you to get outside…
2. Pond life
April is normally the month to lift and divide waterlilies, replanting divided plants in aquatic compost topped with washed gravel in a planting basket. It’s also time to plant up some new aquatic plants in your pond, from friends and neighbours, if not the local nursery. Providing a variety of plants will provide food and shelter for many of your pond ‘critters’ in the next few months. Make sure you have enough oxygenating plants to prevent algae developing. While you’re there, and if you didn’t do it last month, check your pond pumps and filters.
3. Pest watch
Stay vigilant for aphids – green-fly, black-fly – as they will start to multiply as the weather begins to warm up. Check all your plants regularly, especially roses, and squash any clusters of them with your fingers, or spray with a solution of crushed garlic and water to remove them organically. The first lily beetles may start to appear – pick off the bright red beetles and squash them. Keep (or start) patrolling for slugs and snails and pick these off and ‘dispose’ of them as you wish. Alternatively use a beer trap or pellets that do not contain Metaldehyde.
4. Heaven scent
Why not sow a range of herbs as the weather starts to warm up? These could include sage, parsley, thyme, fennel and rosemary, which will all add scent to the garden as well as being useful for cooking. Sow the assorted herb seeds in a prepared seed bed in shallow drills at least 30cm apart. You can plant seedlings up into containers or beds – either way they like a well-prepared soil with plenty of organic matter, such as homemade compost. Herbs will tolerate most conditions, as long as they have plenty of regular sun, so be careful where you put your herb plot – mine is too shady!
5. Nature’s gift
Check for emerging self-seeded plants and transplant or pot these ‘freebies’ up before weeding and mulching your borders.
6. Stay in trim
Lavender and other silver-leaved plants will benefit from a tidy up if you haven’t already shorn them of the top few centimetres of growth (but avoid cutting into thicker, older stems unless you want to renovate over-grown specimens – I’ve did this to my rather large rosemary bush last year and its come back fighting!). Start trimming box hedges and topiaries, or wait another three to four weeks in colder areas. Prune early flowering shrubs like Forsythia, Ribes etc. once they’ve finished flowering. Deadhead daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, so they don’t waste their energy producing seeds. Apply a general feed to them like Blood, Fish and Bone.
7. Transfer window
Prick out and pot on seedlings before they become leggy and overcrowded. See my post on ‘7 tips for successful seedlings’.
8. Under cover
Ventilate greenhouses and cold frames in good weather to prevent a build-up of pests and diseases. Start giving houseplants more water. Protect fruit blossom and young plants from late frosts with horticultural fleece.
9. Spud you like
Good Friday is the traditional day for potato planting (ideally in ground that is well-manured and weed free)! As Easter was early this year and the weather has been on the cold side, I’m going to put my first and second earlies in over the next week or two.
10. Sow ‘n’ grow
These can all be sown outside, if the weather and soil has warmed up:
hardy annuals (e.g. Calendula and Nasturtium), in shallow drills or patches
new lawns (and also repair bald patches and damaged edges) – if this wasn’t done last month
veg, like runner, broad and French beans, beetroot, carrots, cabbages, salad onions, spinach, herbs and Brussels sprouts.
Vegetables like courgette, marrows, tomato and sweetcorn can be started off indoors.
Old School Gardener
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