April Gardening To-Do’s
Spring is in full swing and the pace in the garden is picking up! All of a sudden it’s like an explosion of growth and every-time you look outside something new has happened. Enjoy this wonderful time to the fullest and don’t let your April gardening ‘to-do’s’ overwhelm you. Go outside as often as you can and pick one job to do. It’s remarkable how much you can get done with this approach!
If you haven’t already…
- Sow your tomatoes! Make it your priority if you haven’t sown them already.
- Prepare your growing areas by weeding and mulching so that when you have five spare minutes you can sow or pop the plants straight in. Dig out perennial weeds like bindweed and couch grass. It becomes more difficult the longer you wait! Also, break up any lumps and clumps in your soil to make an even surface for sowing and planting.
What should I be sowing in April?
April is a busy month of sowing! It’s the perfect time to sow your winter brassicas such as kale, winter cabbages, brussel sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli. Sow them in trays and plant out early summer, giving them plenty of time to grow and establish before the cool weather in the autumn.
It’s also a good time to sow lettuce, peas, carrots, parsnips, radish, spring onions, spinach, turnips, beetroot and chard outside.
Additionally in your Harvst Sprout you can sow basil and other herbs, fennel, celery, leeks, leaf beat, dwarf french beans, soybeans, sweetcorn, cucumbers, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes to be planted out when the risk of frost is over.
What should I plant this month?
Plant out broad beans, peas, onion sets, jerusalem artichokes, strawberries, lettuce and summer brassicas raised in cell trays.
Unless you live in a very mild area, April will be your best month to plant out your first early potatoes. In any case, as soon as there is growth above the ground you must protect them from frost. Most areas will have frost until May! Plant the tubers around 10 – 15cm deep and 40 – 45cm apart. If you have chitted the potatoes, be careful not to break off the growth.
Second earlies and maincrop potatoes can be planted from around mid April onwards.
Also, plant asparagus crowns, globe artichoke offsets and container grown fruit trees and bushes. It is too late to plant bare-root trees and bushes as they will no longer be dormant.
What should I harvest this month?
Harvest your first asparagus, as well as rhubarb and the last of your kale, leeks, spring greens and purple sprouting broccoli from outside, plus all the things ready in your Harvst Sprout of course!
- As the weather warms up, adjust your watering schedule. Little seedlings need more water on sunny days as their roots are shallow.
- Check for roots sticking out the bottom of the pot on your pepper, chilli and aubergine plants. Pot them on in good time so as not to stop them growing due to restricted root space.
- Check on all of your seedlings and plants in pots and give them a good feed. You want to feed them before you start seeing any signs of yellowing on the leaves! Overfeeding however, can also cause yellowing leaves so stick to a recommended feeding schedule.
- On sunny days check all of your plants growing under cloches. Lift it up and water the plants if necessary. Also, make sure to open any greenhouses and cold frames as it can get very hot. Your Harvst Sprout will of course do this for you automatically!
- Lay some sticks or dead, bushy, plant material around newly planted onion sets to stop birds from pulling them up.
- Mulch soft fruit bushes to lock in moisture, feed them and keep weeds at bay. Make sure to weed around them before laying the mulch down.
- Prick out tomato seedlings into small pots. They can be planted mid to late April in a greenhouse but outdoor plants must wait till the risk of frost is over.
- Reduce slug habitats in your garden, especially close to new sowings and seedlings. Tidy up, lift up stones and pieces of wood and keep grass short.
- Build support structures for climbing beans and sweet-peas whilst the ground is still soft enough to push the sticks in. Wigwams of strong canes or sticks in double rows crossed at the top are great. Push them in properly and tie them with thick twine to support the weight of a heavy harvest and to withstand any strong winds.
- Propagate artichokes by cutting offsets (new side shoots) from the base of an established plant. This is good to do as the plants, although perennial, often run out of steam after 5 or 6 years.
- Propagate herbs by digging them up, divide and replant separately.
- April can still be cold at night so keep an eye on the weather and protect early outdoor sowings with a horticultural fleece when needed. Your Harvst Sprout should keep your seedlings and plants warm and cosy but always keep an eye on the temperatures. Some plants are very sensitive to temperature drops, especially when they are young seedlings.
- Protect cherry, apricot, peach and nectarine blossoms from frost by covering them with a fleece when the weather forecast is bad.
- Prune stone fruits such as cherries, plums, apricots and peaches as necessary when you see that leaf buds have started to open. These should not be pruned when dormant.
- Hand pollinate apricot, peach and nectarines as there might not be enough pollinators around to do the job. Use a small soft brush to carefully move pollen from one flower to the next.
- Earth up the emerging stems of potato plants.
That should be plenty to keep you busy this month. Happy growing!