April sees the arrival of warmer weather so it’s time to head out into the garden to start sprucing things up.
As we write this we've seen a few days of bright blue skies and somewhat un-seasonally warm temperatures. Don't let those garden centres and DIY stores lull you into a false sense of security over the Easter weekend and encourage you to buy loads of plants. We can still get frosts!
The clocks have gone forward and we're getting more and more daylight and warmer temperatures. It's time to get outside, enjoy the weather and feel the warmth of the sun on your face, and to get planting!
These are our Top Ten jobs for the coming month:
Keep your weeds under control. We've all got them and as the weather starts to get warmer and we get more hours of daylight then those weed seeds will start to germinate. Stay on top of them by giving the annuals a good hoe and by digging out those more persistent perennials - like dandy lions - with a long, sharp blade. Try not to use glyphosate - more and more research suggests that it does more harm than good.
Protect the blossom on your fruit trees from late frosts. Although the weather will be starting to get warmer don't let it - or those garden centres and DIY stores with their alluring array of plants - lure you into a false sense of security! We might well still get a frost during April - and if we do make sure you drape some fleece over any blossom or tender plants you might have planted out. If you don't? Well you run the risk that the frost might affect that blossom such that you'll have to kiss goodbye to any fruit you'd hoped to harvest later in the year.....
Move your pots into a sunny spot. The beauty of growing in pots is that you can move them around to make the most of the warmth and sunlight and even cover them or bring them inside if the temperature drops - see that second point above! Now is also a great time to tidy up any perennial plants in pots. Remove any old plants that remain and top-dress the top few inches or so of soil by replacing it with high-quality, fresh compost.
Tie in climbing and rambling roses. Yes, we've mentioned this before but by now you'll have pruned those thorned beauties and having done that you'll want to make sure that they remain adequately supported. We added some new vine eyes and a few lengths of strong galvanised wire to a climbing rose that we pruned the other day and soon those lucky owners will enjoy the sweet smell of blossom each time they go in through their front door - rather than do battle with a climbing rose that will be trying to block their way!
Keep feeding those roses and other hungry shrubs. We're lucky as when we have the time and we're not gardening we can often be found at a local livery yard digging away at the heap face and filling our sacks (and boots - wellies and the back of the Landy) with lots of nice worm rich and well rotted manure. That's great to add now as a feed for your plants and to also suppress those weeds and retain moisture as the sunnier weather starts to shine through. If you can get some then do - just make sure it really is well rotted.
Sow hardy annuals outdoors. Who doesn't like a wigwam with lots of Lathyrus odoratus winding their way around the sticks? And Lathyrus odoratus - sweet peas to most of us! We sowed some indoors earlier in the year and they're about to be planted up outside. And alongside them we'll be direct sowing some more seeds - as we love the odoratus that comes from those Lathyrus........
Sow new lawns or repair bare patches. With the weather starting to get warmer and yet with some inevitable rain now is a great time either sow a new lawn, or lay some turf or repair some bare patches. We were up our ladder the other day finishing off some pruning and we poked our head over the wall. The neighbour's lawn was looking slightly the worse for wear so we offered our services! The lawn had been relaid last year but due to shade cast by a number of trees it hadn't really settled that well - so now we're going to use some shade tolerant wildflower seed mix to improve things. The moral here? Make sure you prepare the area well, and then choose a variety of grass that will thrive in whatever conditions you have!
Prune fig trees. There's one in a garden that we occasionally work on and where last year we enjoyed nice sweet figs - before the blackbirds took them all. There's another one closer to home where we advised the owner not to prune it too early and let us look after it. And guess what - she told us the other day that it's never had so many buds on it! We'll be pruning it shortly.....
Think veg! Good Friday is traditionally when potatoes are sown and you can read about what we did last year here: Grow your own - Dig for Victory - Potatoes (trugandlettuce.co.uk) Looks like sound advice and we'll be getting ours in shortly! And also give some thought to sowing some warmer weather veg, such as French and borlotti beans, pumpkins, squashes and courgettes. We'll be sowing ours over the next few days or so.
Watch out for those seedlings so they don't go mouldy. This is caused by sowing your seeds too thickly and by then giving them too much water. It can however be easily rectified by thinning out the tiny plants and then watering them less. Plant them on in new pots, keep your eye on them and they ought to be ok!
We said last month that we'd update you with what we got up to throughout the month - but we've been so busy we haven't done that! We do though have lots to tell you about and we will over the next few weeks! If you have any questions in the meantime though then we’d be delighted to hear from you.
And don't forget that you can listen to us chat all things gardening on FromeFM. We're on every 4 weeks with our next show going out across the airwaves (or World Wide Web) at 1pm on Easter Sunday - 4th April.