April Seasonal Tips

A year ago we were bemoaning the fact that we in the midst of an unprecedented situation. Locked down and virtually locked in due to the Covid-19 crisis. Garden centres closed, 2020 show cancelled and all but essential travel banned.

Did we think it would continue for a whole year? Only now are we seeing the benefits of vaccinations and the gradual relaxation of restrictions. However one of the major outcomes has been a dramatic increase in the interest in gardening and with it garden centres running out of stock.

One of our committee members, Maureen Barton, set up a Facebook page called Growing Together this time last year to provide advice to local new and novice gardeners. A measure of how sudden the new interest in gardening has been can be seen in the number of followers.

 This FB page https://www.facebook.com/groups/1431012233745894/about now has over 6500 followers worldwide !

March has been one of the warmest on record ending with temperatures of 25c in the south but snow and frost is forecast in the next week threatening to curtail what has been a good year for camellias and magnolias. Cold northerly winds look as though things will return more ‘normal’ April weather. As always with gardening, patience needs to be the name of the game.

Harden off seedlings of plants sown last month eg. lettuce, onions and cauliflower. Prick out others as they reach the first true leaf stage. Later in the month sow runner beans, leeks, courgettes, marrows and cucumbers under glass. French beans can also be started off in the greenhouse now but don’t be too hasty to plant out in the garden as they hate cold soil. Make successive sowings of lettuce. Pot on sowings of tomatoes.

Outside, when conditions allow, sow crops of peas, broad beans, cabbage, beetroot, spinach, parsnips. Cover strawberries with fleece or cloches for an earlier crop. Trim and feed rosemary. Sow hardy annuals where they are to grow. Plant gladioli corms in groups of 5 or 6. Pinch out the dead heads of daffodils; Feed and mulch roses. Keep the hoe moving to keep weeds down.

Wood ashes should be preserved as they are invaluable, especially when mixed with heavy soils, when planting out sweet peas, gladioli and many other flowering plants that are put out in Spring.

Talking of Sweet Peas, seeds can still be sown. For exhibition you’ll need to train them singly up canes 2.4m x 30cms (8ft x 12ins) apart. Tie in the strongest side shoot and remove the others. As the stems grow pinch out all the new side shoots, and all the tendrils and tie in alternate leaves so all the energy goes into the growing stem. Well worth the effort and you’ll get much larger blooms and stems.

“Green With Envy” Are Green Walls All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

An entertaining illustrated talk given at our October 2020 meeting on Zoom by Charlotte  Howard MHort (RHS).

Now available on Youtube: https://youtu.be/Gc1-O639byE