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Gardening Tips - April

 

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Cumbria in Bloom are greatly appreciative and indebted to Jersey Plants Direct for their contribution to these tips on the month to month jobs to be done in the garden.

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April Gardener's Calendar

Spring should now be in full flow.  Golden Daffodils, blossoms and rising temperatures make April such an exciting month. Yes, there’s the odd ‘April shower’ but frequent longer sunny days make for lovely gardening weather.

You may need to start watering vulnerable plants as ground water reserves are low and ‘April showers’ tend to evaporate before they can penetrate the water table.

 

Sowing and planting

Hardy annuals such as Sunflowers, Marigolds, Cornflowers and Nasturtiums can be sown in directly into your beds and pots to give you colour later in the year.  And, even though it’s spring, you should sow half hardy summer bedding plants, like Petunias and Lobelia in trays and keep them under cover until the weather is reliably warm day and night. 

Now’s the time to plant summer flowering bulbs if you haven’t done so already– Bulbs such as Alliums and Agapanthus are ideal for patio containers and like the warmer spring soil in your borders. Make sure you prepare the soil first to ensure good drainage to prevent bulbs rotting. 

You can still plant herbaceous perennials month, such as Geranium & Aubretia.  Make sure that your plants have strong green shoots and plant them into well-prepared soil.  Planting them now will  give them a chance to establish in the milder, wetter weather.

In April plant evergreens such as Phormiums and Cordylines.  Cordylines are wonderful container plants, or why not use them as a focus point in your bedding or to add some foliage relief in a mixed border.

Tidying your garden – Cut back, prune and divide

This month divide the clumps of herbaceous perennials that you want to propagate.  Clumps of bulbs can be divided in the same way.  Just make sure the transplanted cuttings have roots and shoots and have sufficient water to help them settle into their new positions.

You can prune Penstemons and other tender plants like Lavender by making the cut just above fresh new shoots.  Cutting back Lavender prevents them from getting too leggy or woody. 

Lavatera benefits from cutting back hard in April.   New shoots will soon appear and carry this season’s flowers on this fast growing shrub.

April Spring Garden Maintenance

Borders and beds need a good all-purpose fertiliser but be careful not to damage emerging shoots, or to burn them with fertiliser.

Your spring garden bedding plants such as Pansies and Primulas will continue to need deadheading.  Pansies can carry on flowering into early summer if regularly deadheaded. Now is the time to tidy up and take away any tired winter bedding and plants.

Top up pots and tubs with fresh compost or if the pots are full already remove the top 5cms and replace with fresh compost.  Water containers if they start to dry out.

Mulch Rose and shrub beds with a nice 3-inch layer of organic matter. This is important to help keep in moisture during dry spells and reduce the build up of weeds.  Azaleas and Camellias are particularly vulnerable to drying out and a layer of mulch around their roots helps protect them.

Protect

Continue to protect vulnerable plants like Lilies, Delphiniums and Hostas from slugs and snails.  

Mild spells help aphids multiply fast.  Remove infestations before the problem gets out of hand.  Your sweet peas must be protected from aphids as they can get sweet pea viruses.  Alternatively try our Ladybird Larvae, one of our great range of biological control products – the natural way to tackle aphids.

Vegetables

In the first half of April chit and plant out second Early Potatoes, in the second half plant main crop potatoes. Don’t worry if you don’t have much space, Potatoes can be grown in pots, bags and buckets.  Don’t forget to water them if there hasn’t been much rain.  Earth up Potatoes already in the ground to protect the potatoes from the light.

In well-prepared soil you can sow seed outdoors for Beetroot, Carrots, Lettuce, Leeks, Spring Onions, Peas and Perpetual Spinach. Indoors you can sow Courgettes, Sweet Peppers, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Salad.

If you live in a mild area then sow dwarf French Beans and Sweet Corn outside under cloches or fleece.  If you live in a cooler area then you best wait until May.

Give Blackcurrants and Blackberries a high nitrogen feed.  They will be putting on a growth spurt this month and will appreciate the feed.

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