Gardening Jobs for April
In April the weather starts to gradually warm up and the garden starts to change week by week. When it comes to your gardening jobs, this is the time to start to sow and plant most of the summer flowers, but make sure you leave time to enjoy the spring. It can easily pass by in the blink of an eye.
Gardening jobs for your veg garden
April is the perfect time for planting maincrop potatoes. These varieties will be harvested in late September or early October and can be stored through the winter. They need more space than the early varieties so plant them 15cm deep, 40cm apart in rows 75cm apart. Once the shoots start to show, draw the soil from either side of the row to cover them and forming a triangular ridge. This process of burying the stems of plants will encourage the formation of more tubers.
You should be noticing more weeds are starting to sprout on your plot. This means it’s also the perfect time for sowing directly into the beds. Beetroot, carrots, radish, turnips, spinach and peas can all be sown directly in top the soil outdoors this month. Try not to sow too much in one session but do short rows of lots of different varieties then re-sow them again in three or four weeks time to provide a succession of crops throughout the season.
Harvest early salads
Salads that were sown a few weeks ago will be starting to put on lots of leafy growth and will soon be ready to harvest. Trim them gently with a pair of scissors, taking care not to damage the central growing tip and and you should be able to take several good harvests of leaves over the next few months.
Gardening jobs: Ornamentals
The spring sunshine will be warming the soil and everything is coming into growth. It’s now time to start planting gladioli. It can be useful to leave a few weeks between planting batches to try and delay some, extending the season of this versatile cut flower
Take Dahlia cuttings
The Dahlia tubers you potted on a month or so ago will be putting on lots of shoots. These shoots will have solid stems, so are perfect for making cuttings. This is a great way to produce lots of plants. Cutting-raised plants are very vigorous and are often used for cut flower production or competition growing. Sever the shoot from the roots with a sharp knife and plant them so that one leaf node is below the soil. Keep them in a heated propagator and they should start to root within a few weeks.
Plant out annual sweet peas
The annual sweet peas you sowed back in October should be ready to plant out. They will grow to over 6ft so make sure you have a suitable support ready for them to climb. Make sure the area has had plenty of well rotted compost dug in and give them a good watering after planting. They aren’t usually susceptible to slugs and snails, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for aphids which can quickly colonise them and spread viruses.
Feed and deadhead bulbs
Spring bulb displays will be starting to fade, so it’s a good time to nip off of any seedpods that are starting to form to ensure all the energy is directed into healthy bulbs for next year. Whilst they are still in leaf, give them a dose of liquid feed to help them produce big bulbs that will bloom again next year.
Sow annuals direct
The warm, damp April weather is ideal for germinating seeds of hardy annual plants like Nigella, Poppies and Calendula which can all be sown directly into the beds this month. Prepare the soil to make a fine tilth and level it with a rake to remove any large stones. Try sowing the seeds in straight lines as this will make it much easier to identify them against any weeds which might also pop up.
Camellias can still be flower until the end of the month. It helps if you can keep them deadheaded. They are a bit tender and late frosts can easily damage the flowers turning them brown. Secondary moulds set in, affecting the emerging flowers and shortening the display. Removing any brown flowers should help to keep them going for a little longer.
Gardening jobs: Lawn
Apply lawn feed
As the weather starts to warm up the grass will spring back into life. Make sure it is supplied with all the nutrients it needs for the growing season by applying a feed. Most granular feeds will need watering in after application, so try to do it just before rain is forecast. Be careful not to walk on the grass until it is watered as many feeds can leave persistent stains on your patio (or even on your carpet!)
Any dandelions which have seeded in bare patches will start to make themselves known with their rosette of toothed leaves and bright yellow flowers. Whilst they are great for the bees, they can spoil the appearance of a formal lawn. Don’t worry though, you can easily tease them out with a long thin trowel, making sure you get as much of the tap root as possible.
If you have a patch that needs returfing, now is the perfect time to do it. You can easily work the soil to a good level surface and the April showers should help to keep it well watered until it establishes. Take care not to walk on it while you are laying it by only walking on boards across the turf. This will also help to keep it as level as possible.
Gardening jobs in your greenhouse
Plant tuberous begonias
Begonias give a great display of colourful flowers throughout the summer whatever the weather. They take a long time to grow from seed but tubers should be available to buy now. Start them off in a warm greenhouse by placing the tuber on the surface of a good quality compost so the tip is just proud of the surface. They need high temperatures and humidity to get started but do not like to be soaked, so water them using a mist sprayer if possible.
Sowing tender veg
Now is the perfect time to be starting off your tender veg inside. Crops like courgette, pumpkins and sweetcorn don’t like to get cold at all. By starting them towards the end of April, they will be ready to harden off during May, and planted out into the veg plot in early June.
Gardening jobs: Pests and diseases
These little insects will start to maker their presence felt at this time of year. Keep an eye on new shoots for any colonies of these tiny insects that might appear because they feed on the plants sap, and will leave it susceptible to other pests, diseases or viruses. If you catch an infestation early, you can simply squash or wipe it off, but if they get more prolific it may be necessary to resort to a spray. Organic approved sprays will often contain fatty acids or insecticidal soaps which smother and suffocate them. Always use any pesticide according to instructions on the bottle. Never spray anything that is in flower and try to do any spraying on overcast days to reduce the affect on any pollinating insects that may be around.
Gardening jobs: Pruning
Hard prune Cotinus, Catalpa or Paulownia
Cutting some shrubs back hard can encourage them to send out long vigorous shoots with even bigger leaves than usual. This can give plants an interesting ‘exotic’ appearance. It’s best to do it just as the buds start to break, as the new shoots are tender and easily set back by a light frost.