What to do in the garden in April, well quite a lot since you as you ask.
Though its all quite manegable, I’ve been making lists & getting through them one at a time.
Seed sowing & general propagation:
I sowed tomato seeds last month, & they’re now tiny plants, currently in the summerhouse where they’re getting plenty of light. They’ve been joined by dahlia tubers, potted up ready to start growing, & various flower & vegetable seeds.
The thing is, these half-hardy plants (originally from warmer countries) need protection from the cold & can only go outside after the last frost-date in your part of the country. Here in Surrey its round about the end of May.
This means that for the next six weeks they have to be looked after inside, either on window-ledges in the spare room, the summerhouse (insulated & double glazed), the cold-frame, or the greenhouse (the coldest of the four options). This is a good reason not to get carried away & sow the more tender plants too early.
Hardy seeds are a different category, much easier going as they’re not so sensitive to cold. In fact, they can be sown straight into the soil outside this month, but its best to take a few precautions.
- Wait until the end of the month, if its too cold for germination the seeds will eventually rot.
- Warm the soil in vegetable beds by covering them with fleece or something similar. I use plastic compost bags cut flat & turned inside out, the inside is black so not garish.
- I’ll be sowing these seeds in pre-warmed soil outside by mid April, carrots, broad beans, peas, spinach, flat leaf parsley, poppies, nigella & marigolds.
- I also sow seeds in pots & keep them somewhere sheltered, a greenhouse or cold-frame, as back ups for any mishaps with the ones outside.
Seeds sown inside now, need to be ‘hardened off’ before they’re planted outside next month. This just means placing them outside during the day, or opening the lid on the cold-frame, then bringing them in at the end of the day before the temperatures drop.
- french beans
- winter squash
- runner beans
- sprouting broccoli
Make sure there’s enough space to keep them before they can go out in the garden/allotment, & just grow what you love to eat.
Build or organise any structures that you’ll need as supports for runner bean, squash etc.
Pot-up dahlia tubers, water them, not so they’re soggy though.
Plant lily bulbs directly into the soil, put a stick next to them to remind you they’re there. Sticks in the garden make me nervous, it’s easy to get poked in the eye, so cover them with those little caps, or empty snail shells.
Set the lawn mower blades high when you cut the grass, then lower them after the first few cuts. Cutting it too short weakens the grass, it needs to build up some strength after winter.
Keep weeding, anyone else enjoy this task? Weeds are small with tiny roots now, & easy to destroy. Just take care not to hoe self-seeded lovelies by mistake. Leave them a week or two if you’re not sure, & they’ll be easier to recognise.
Keep on mulching, on clean, damp soil, soil improver, home-made compost etc. Mulched soil holds on to moisture & nutrients for longer, it also encourages more invertebrates & worms, creating a rich, healthy habitat.
I’m looking forward to eating home grown, organic vegetables, & picking flowers.
Organic food saves the body from having to process a whole load of chemicals. It’s even more important than ever as my husband is being treated for cancer, its looking positive but we all need all the help we can get to stay healthy.
A recent post is about how to garden with less plastic, please do have a read & let me know what you think.
Have a good April in the garden, take time to sit & enjoy it all.
All photos: Jill Anderson.