April in the Garden

At last winter is over ! The Spring had been a long time comin’ but it did arrive; but maybe a few weeks later than other years and growth is now beginning to catch up. The grass is getting greener and the hedgerows are beining to start showing some leaves at last. Overal we didn’t have much cold weather but it has certainly ben dull, dreary and damp…but now that is all behind us and we have the bright, sunny days of late spring and the summer to come along. This is an important time, with the lengthening evenings, to get some real work done in the garden, and NOW is the time to do a whole list of jobs to get the garden going for the year !
1. THE LAWN…. The grass is now making a sudden burst of growth and is very uneven. If you haven’t cut it once already try and get it cut as soon as poss, then after about 4 days apply some lawn feed with the moss and weedkiller included just before a spell of rain is forecasted. This will help the grass recover quicker after the wet winter. The moss killer will blacken the moss and the grass will be able to fill in the gaps. A good scratching with a rake will help lift the dead moss after a couple of weeks. The mower should then be able to suck this debris up. The fertilizer treatment should be repeated at a later stage in the summer.
2. SHRUBS……..Spring is a pruning and planting season ! Now is a good time for planting up new shrubs to fill in gaps that might have appeared during the winter after the various storms and summer flowering shrubs should be pruned by now. Later pruning will delay flowering of these shrubs but by pruning you will encourage strong sturdy growth from the base of the shrub. DO NOT PRUNE spring flowering shrubs until they have finished flowering as you will be cutting off all the flower buds.
3. TREES have taken a bit of a battering over this winter and will take some time to recover. Wherever possible straighten up and support any damaged trees so as to encourage better rooting. Prune back the upper crowns of trees to lower their overall height and make sure there is no ivy growing up the tree. Spring is a good season for replacing and replanting trees. Bare root trees will only be available for another week or so but after that there are container grown trees that can be planted.
4. WINDOW BOXES, HANGING BASKETS, PATIO CONTAINERS..ETC…….It is nearly time for planting the summer bedding plants but not for another few weeks as we can still get a frost right up into the first week of May. If you are impatient and what to add colour close to the house in planted containers the large flowering Pansy or its small cousin , the Viola, will give you a splash of instant colour and won’t be effected by any cold weather. Summer bedding plants can always be added to this planting once the last frost has gone.We will have a large selection of these bedding and patio plants available at Willowfield from Easter onwards.
5. VEGE GARDEN…….so much to do here ! Tidying up, weeding, digging, manuring, sowing, planting……all has to be done as soon as the ground is dry enough to work with. Planting potatoes is synonymous with Easter, even though it changes every year, it marks a target for planting the garden. Plant your sprouting tubers into the ground and as soon as the shoots start appearing above the soil level start earthing up as this will help prevent frost damage and will increase your harvest. Most of the potatoes should be planted up before the first week in May so get cracking here! Sowing seeds of other vegetable crops can take place now both inside and outside. Peas, Beans, Lettuce, Carrots, Beetroot..etc can all be sown now. Starting off the seed germination and early stages of growth under protection of a polythene tunnel or a window sill can produce some early young plants for planting up in early May when summer should be just around the corner ! Onion sets, Shallots and Garlic should all be planted over the next couple of weeks too.
6. FRUIT GARDEN….time is NOW for planting various fruit bushes, trees and strawberry plants. A small area in most gardens could be set aside for a fruit corner with an apple or pear tree ( your neighbours fruit trees could help out with pollination ) and some soft fruit bushes like Raspberry, Gooseberry, Blue Berries or Currants close by. Climbing fruits like the Kiwi or Loganberry, Boysenberry and thorn less Blackberries can be trained along garden fences. Strawberries can even be grown in hanging baskets if you are running out of garden space.

So, basically the next few weeks is all about sowing and planting for this is the beginning of the sequence of events that will bring colour to your garden for the summer and a fresh supply of summer vegetables and an autumn harvest in the vegetable and fruit gardens. Happy Gardening and will see you out at Willowfield for all your gardening needs !

Simon and Margaret.