I am pretty sure that April is up there as one of my most favourite months of the year. Everything is starting to feel a little more optimistic and, with more daylight, we feel better in ourselves. Plants are budding up, seeds are sprouting and we can look forward to reaping our rewards later in the year. Nurturing, in any form, is really good for health and wellbeing, and what better than to nurture seedlings into tiny plants, be they vegetables or flowers.

As well as gardening advice this month we thought you might like  a FREE recipe using nettles! Read it HERE

April is also a great time to look at what might be trending in gardening for the rest of the year. One of the biggest trends on the horizon is growing your own. And, don’t forget you don’t need to have a dedicated vegetable garden or even much room. There are lots of varieties that thrive in pots, even dwarf runner beans and peas! Growing in this way is also a fabulous means to encourage children to join in as they can then see the seeds germinate and start to grow, and eventually eat! I can still remember my daughter ‘pinching’ tomatoes out of the greenhouse! They never made it to the kitchen!

You could also think about incorporating some veg into your main flower garden or up a fence. Choose a variety of runner bean like Painted Lady which has red and white flowers to grow in amongst your flowers, and you will get pretty and productive and encourage bees and butterflies as well! These beneficial insects can be further supported by sowing a patch or pot of wild flower mix and allowing celandines to flower in the lawn.  Search out an old book called ‘The Ornamental Kitchen Garden’ by Geoff Hamilton (of Gardener’s World fame) for many, many ideas. Even though written in 1995, it is still one of my favourite go to books for brilliant combinations. He was truly ahead of his time.

Most of all, gardening should be joyful and happy. Things are hotting up (we hope) in the garden now, and there is loads to do:

THINGS TO DO IN APRIL?
  • Continue watering new trees and shrubs when dry. Consider mulching the top surface with bark chippings, or your own compost.
  • Feed established lawns. Consider a light cut if the ground is suitably dry.
  • Plant new aquatic plants in ponds. Keep clear of algae by immersing a hank of barley straw under the water.
  • Plant evergreen trees and shrubs. Dig a lovely large hole and add as much compost as you can to include organic matter. Stake if necessary. This will get the plants off to a good start. Don’t forget to keep them watered.
  • Erect windbreaks around new trees and shrubs if needed.
  • Trim grey-leaved shrubs to keep them bushy. Shred any clippings and use as mulch or add to the compost heap.
  • Tie in the new shoots of climbers.
  • Prune early-flowering shrubs.
  • Prune shrubs grown for large or colourful foliage.
  • Divide perennials either splitting with two forks or an old kitchen knife. Why not offer a friend a spare plant in exchange for something from their garden?
  • Stake tall-growing perennials.
  • Protect young growth from slugs and snails. We have several products in the shop this year, from organic to the ‘nuke-‘em’ variety! We are also going to trial using spent coffee grounds, garlic sprays and nematodes, so will let you know the results later on in the summer.
  • Remove annual weeds with your hands. You will thank yourself in the weeks to come.
  • Remove perennial weeds by digging them out. Ensure deep-rooted weeds are completely removed. These should be burned or disposed of, but not added to the compost heap.
  • Deadhead daffodils (I include this item, but you will probably find that as the daffodils were so very early this year, you have already done it!).
  • Sow annual climbers and grasses.
  • Continue sowing and planting vegetables outdoors (watch out for a frost, and cover with fleece or newspaper overnight).
  • Plant container-grown fruit trees, remembering to continue to water if the weather is dry.
  • Keep feeding the birds to attract them into the garden where they will also take care of those pesky unwanted bugs and insects.
THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO….
  • Cut down any dead growth that has been left on perennials over winter, especially on grasses, as new shoots are at risk of being damaged.
  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs.
  • Sow sweet peas.
GET IN FRONT….
  • Prune spring-flowering shrubs like forsythia immediately after they have bloomed to encourage new growth to flower next year.

 

Sue Brown

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