Spring is now springing up around us - Easter is nearly upon us, the clocks have gone forward and the daffodils are blooming. It's time to celebrate the start of the (hopefully) warmer months and a great excuse to get out into the garden. Phil McCann has put together his top 10 tips to help your garden flourish through the second month of Spring...
Top 10 April gardening Tips:
- Spring tidy up – out with the old, ready for the new
- Keep up the slug vigil but add greenfly, blackfly and blight
- Give your lawn some post-winter TLC
- Feed your roses and shrubs
- Trim winter flowering shrubs and evergreen hedges
- Plant new container plants
- Split perennials
- Give your greenhouse a good clean
- Start sowing your veg
- Buy basket and container plug plants
An overview of April:
There’s loads to do in the garden this month so be prepared for a few busy garden weekends - get the coffee on and the doughnuts in! Spring is well and truly underway but there is still the risk of frost until after mid-May. This month things really start to get under way as Magnolias look resplendent with their large goblet flowers, Chaenomeles (Japonica)covered in pink and orange, pink Ribes, yellow Forsythia and Prunus trees are heavy with blossom – what a picture!
Spring tidy up:
Keep an eye on the weeds and yank ‘em out as soon as you see any. Collect up old leaves, carefully trim back old growth on perennials (watching out for new shoots at the base), deadhead and tie up old foliage on spring bulbs… and that’s just for starters!
Keep up the vigil:
If you have any box or holly trees looking a bit pale and sick it could be blight, if so you need to cut out all affected growth and burn it, if that’s most of the plant then yank it out and replant, but spray the soil with an anti-fungal treatment as well to destroy spores in the soil. Whilst your working have a good look for greenfly and blackfly on new shoots or buds and get rid of them!
Feed your roses and shrubs:
Trim back any dead, damaged or diseased growth. Then give them a liquid feed - it’s like a tonic. Next, scatter a slow release granular feed and mulch with either tree bark or compost around the base. Looks better already.
Secateurs in hand, check they’re sharp and clean, remove any frost damaged shoots from evergreens. Can you see any stems with brown tips? they’re the ones your looking for, cut back just beyond the brown tip to a bud. On the subject of evergreens, now is the last opportunity to move them before they’re in full growth.
You can prune back winter flowering shrubs to fit their space, neaten them up and encourage lots of new shoots for next winter’s flowers. Have you got any Lavenders? They need a trim too but not into bare wood, or Helichrysum the grey one that smells just like curry powder and Santolina the same, this will shape them up and encourage more flowers.
Don’t be too enthusiastic with those secateurs and resist the temptation to prune spring flowering shrubs until after they’ve flowered, even if they’re overgrown, enjoy the flowers then cut them back,
Plant new container plants:
If you fancy an ornamental tree or new shrub now is the time to buy and plant container grown specimens. Don’t forget to stake the tree and tie it for support in windy weather – it helps it to make a good root system. Of course, add your mycorrhizal fungi treatment for optimal root system development.
Existing clumps that are too big can be dug up and split - with a sharp spade or two forks back to back -into smaller clumps and replanted. So, it’s plant one get three or four free a few years later!
Clean your greenhouse:
A good clean with Jeyes fluid or suitable disinfectant will get rid of lingering spores and other nasty bacteria. Remember to wear those lovely yellow rubber gloves – it’s strong stuff! Remove any moss and debris, make sure seed trays are clean, check seeds for use by dates and you’re ready for sowing.
Start sowing your veg:
In the greenhouse, sow tomatoes, cucumber, summer veg and mixed salad into trays or modules. If you want to get a head start on outdoor veg you can sow French beans, squash, peas and leeks as well. After the risk of frost, these can all be planted out.
On the veg patch, laying black plastic, bubble wrap or even old carpet down for a week or two will soon warm the soil up ready for sowing carrots, peas, winter cabbages and broccoli seeds. Do keep an eye on the forecast and protect the delicate seedlings with horticulture fleece if a late frost is forecast.
Another April Job:
If you grow rhubarb it should be producing new stems now, check for flowers and cut them off as they will take all the plants energy. Keep it watered and fed to encourage lots of sweet stems for that yummy crumble.