April in the Garden

PolytunnelApril is the month when everything must be sown once and for all. The tender vegetables such as pumpkins and squashes fall into this category and all the flower seeds too.

Planting out is a different matter. However far ahead your young plants are indoors don’t be too hasty in planting out. Sit tight and wait, things always catch up.

Every surface of greenhouse and polytunnel is now covered in seedlings, there is no room anywhere. We like a lot of flowers in this family and to conserve room I sow a lot of vegetables straight into the ground wherever possible. This includes peas, beans, spinach and all the root vegetables such as carrots and beetroot which cannot be transplanted anyway.

Several of the beds in the vegetable garden are occupied by peonies, foxtail lilies and dahlias already. I try and keep these weeded, digging out any docks, dandelions and nettles that are emerging before the shots of the flowers get too big. The dahlias overwintered outside – I gambled on a mild winter which we got and I am hopeful that they survived.

Woody plants that are not tender such as fruit trees and bushes can be planted in April, it is not too late and if there is anything that needs to be moved like a gooseberry or a currant that is in the wrong place there is still time to do that. Also get perennial herbs in now – thyme, marjoram, and chives are all hardy and are good to go in now.

A good pointer to hardiness is to go to a nursery or garden centre and see what is growing outside on the benches and what remains inside.

April is also the best month to plant any flowering herbaceous perennials as most of these can withstand overnight frost.

This is the moment to put an asparagus bed in if you have space of 2m x 1m minimum.

Further on with vegetables you can sow later crops of broad beans and second early varieties of peas such as Hurst Greenshaft and Kelvedon Wonder.

Cut grass as often as you can as this will help develop the roots that make a strong sward for later in the summer when it may dry out.

Begin to harden off young plants that will end up outside. Be sure to ventilate greenhouse/polytunnel/sun room well in the day so the little ones begin to get used to cooler temperatures.

Keep adding compost or well rotted manure to vegetable beds. You cannot overdo this.

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