The time is gone forward to summertime, which gives us an extra hour of gardening time in the evening, something to be taken advantage of to get the garden into shape.
Feed trees, shrubs and hedging with a good tree and shrub fertiliser. Apply the fertiliser on a calm day or better still on a calm day when rain is forecast, which will water and wash in the fertiliser. Be careful not to get the fertiliser on to the leaves. Ericaceous trees and shrubs are best fed with an ericaceous fertiliser, containing iron and other micronutrients, which will improve both the flowering and growing of your ericaceous, lime-hating plants. Shrubs that will benefit include Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Skimmias, Sarcococcas, Camellias, Pieris, Kalmias, Embothriums and Blueberries. Roses should now be fed with a proprietary rose fertilizer, spread it evenly around the bush without getting it on the foliage.
Citrus should now be fed frequently with a summer formulation of citrus feed. Houseplants should now be fed regulary with a liquid feed. Some specialised houseplants such as Cacti, African violets, Streptocarpus and Fuchsias are best fed with specialised specific fertiliser suited to the particular plant. Keep a vigilant eye on watering as the brighter, warmer, sunnier days will mean the plants will require more frequent watering.
Lawn Care in April
Feeding and weeding can commence at the end of April, as the temperature warms up and growth is active. Moss needs control this month too especially after such a wet winter. Sow a new lawn this month.
Protect fruit blossom from late frosts. Early-flowering plants may need some protection from frost by covering with Hessian sacking, frost protection fleece. Cover before nightfall. Ensure however the protective material is removed in the morning to allow maximum access to pollinating insects.
Ventilate protected strawberries on sunny days. If growth is poor apply a light dressing of nitrogen.
Get spring-planted strawberries in the ground by mid-April. Use weed control fabric or black polythene if planting in the open ground. Put this in place prior to planting and make incisions for the plants with a sharp scissors or knife, ensuring the fabric/polythene is well-anchored.
Complete pruning of gooseberries and red and white currants. Hand-pollinate wall-trained peaches and nectarines with an artist’s brush. Finish planting of new raspberry canes. Cut back the newly planted canes.
Well-established Sweet Peas may be planted out into well-prepared well-dug soil. Sweet Peas will succeed best in rich soil, which has had generous amounts of well-rotten farmyard or stable manure added to the soil. Fork in a good organic fertiliser prior to planting. Protect against slugs and mice. If hard frosts occur, have some protection readily accessible such as frost protection fleece. Water well in dry weather, using lukewarm water if the weather is cold. The plants will produce more side shoots if pinched back to two sets of leaves. Put in a robust support up to a height of 7-8 feet high (210-240cm).
Dahlias and Begonias
Dahlia and Begonia tubers may be brought back into growth by starting them off indoors in a greenhouse, sunroom or conservatory. Plant in a pot or box with moistened compost and gradually ease them back into growth. They may then be planted into their summer flowering quarters at the end of May when all risk of frost is over. They should be well hardened off before planting out.
April is the traditional month for planting tomatoes in the greenhouse. There is a wide choice of varieties available. Your choice of varieties will be determined by flavour, disease resistance, cropping, fruit size and colour.
Varieties: Moneymaker — traditional, conventional, popular red-fruited variety, the most well-known variety.
Shirley — remains one of the most popular varieties for cultivating in cold or slightly heated greenhouses. It produces heavy crops of excellent quality fruit. It has good disease resistance against fusarium, tobacco mosaic virus and cladosporium. It will reach a height of 200cm (79”) and a spread of 50cm (20”).
Gardener’s Delight — cherry-sized tomatoes with a delicious flavour. It is a reliable and heavy cropper. It may also be grown outdoors in a sunny sheltered position. Don’t however plant outdoors until late May when all risk of frost is over.
Tumbling Tom — ideal variety for a hanging basket where it will produce a prolific crop of sweetly flavoured delicious tomatoes.
Ferline — A good heavy cropping, disease-resistant variety, which may also be grown outdoors.
Sow or plant lettuce and cabbage outdoors. Protect against pigeons and rabbits.
Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes
Clean out and discard old plants from last year’s containers. Clean thoroughly. Ensure drainage holes are open. If you have indoor space, plant up for the summer display. Summer containers may be displayed outdoors from the end of May. Use fresh compost when planting with the addition of a slow-release fertilser.