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April Garden Tips

Garden work for April 2018

Flower garden

The garden starts to really get up and go after its winter doze. So, give your lawn a bit of attention in April, and it will give it the best chance of standing up to the worst that drought can bring later on. Here are a few things you can be doing as the weather warms up:

  • Rake it lightly, especially if it has been treated for moss. Vigorous scarification should be kept for the autumn.
  • Tidy up the border edges and take out the grass runners that have invaded the beds. Reseed bare patches.
  • Feed the lawn with a branded spring and summer lawn feed that is high in nitrogen, use a spreader for larger areas.

In the flower garden start to put in support for perennials. In April, one of Capel knowledgeable horticulturalist’s garden used to look like a mini-forest in her day, but come June all her delphiniums, helianthus, and phlox were growing through the supports and not flopping all over the place. Top heavy plants like peonies and dahlias are best with a Y-stake or grid; pea sticks are useful for short, front of the border plants like penstomen. I have been cheating a little and have used short lengths of steel pig wire netting as a support, which works well but does look a little metallic to start with before the plants have grown up.

It is a good idea to leave a can of water in the greenhouse to warm up before you water, this will reduce plants getting a shock from icy cold water. If you are sowing fine seeds (like nicotinia) – water the compost first. This avoids washing the seed deep into it. As daffodil and other bulbs finish flowering, remove the dead flowers as this prevents seed formation and diverts more energy into the growth of the bulbs.

 

Vegetables

In well prepared ground, start your sowings for beetroot, carrots, Swiss chard, summer cauliflower, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring onions, peas and spinach. Sow other brassicas in trays for planting later. Remember to keep some ground back that is not too high in nitrogen and is ‘hard’ as they like to go into soil that is relatively compacted, otherwise they do not produce solid heads (for cabbage) or good buttons (for sprouts).

Watch out for hungry slugs and snails and take appropriate measures to control them, especially on the ‘baby’ plants, such as germinating lettuce and carrot. A single snail can munch its way through a whole row of seedlings overnight with all the delay that causes. There are seven species of slugs in the UK. Most live in or on the soil surface, but keeled slugs (Milax species) live and feed in the root zone. Slugs vary in length from 5 cm up to 12 cm for the large black slug (Arion ater). The later can be black, orange brown or even buff coloured.

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