April Seasonal Tips

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A month on and who would have thought we would be in the midst of such an unprecedented situation. Locked down and virtually locked in due to the Covid-19 crisis. Garden centres closed, show cancelled and all but essential travel banned.

So those fortunate to have gardens are spending much more time outside not only catching up on seasonal jobs which had been impossible during last month’s rain, but also enjoying the therapeutic benefits that gardening brings.

With rumours of the coming lockdown many garden centres reported unprecedented business sales of seeds and compost  before they were shut down. Now the only opportunity seems to buy online.

With a warm spell at the end of March and now a prolonged dry period it is important to remember to water pots  and newly planted shrubs. Overnight frosts threatened threatened to curtail what has been a good year for camellias and magnolias. After the last week of cold northerly winds we look as though things will return more ‘normal’ April weather with the possibility of overnight frosts. As always with gardening, patience needs to be the name of the game. Don’t be too hasty to plant out potatoes or sow seeds at least until the soil has returned to ‘normal’.

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.

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