Gardening in April The Willowfield Way!

Springing into summer!
Will winter ever end? Here we are in mid-April still expecting some good spring weather and still waiting, maybe the switch will be flicked and we will jump straight into summer; here’s hoping! Still there is nothing we can do about it except make the most of any dry day that comes along. It will soon be time for starting the summer bedding plants but be careful as frosts can still happen into early May and early plantings would need to be covered at night time to prevent damage.

The LAWN as mentioned last month could well be more moss than grass after a wet winter and needs tackling. Scatter some Lawn Fertilizer that contains moss-killer and weed-killer and this will help sort out your problem. Sulphate of Iron or ‘Lawn Sand’ will do a more severe job on your lawn if required. Leave the grass cutting for about 10 days after you have applied the chemicals and then mow away as normal. Don’t use the clippings in the regular compost heap for 3 cuts after applying. There is a new moss killer/lawn fertilizer available now that uses a mycorrhiza fungi that eats away at the moss and also acts as a soil improver ! more environmentally friendly.
SHRUBS can be planted up now and choose from the early spring flowering range like Camelia, Rhododendron, Azalea, Forsythia, Viburnum, Kerria etc to add colour to your garden at this time of year. Pruning of shrubs can take place but remember to prune flowering plants just after they have finished flowering so you don’t adversely affect the next lush of flowers.
This would now be the last chance of planting hedges using bare root plants before next winter. From May onwards you should use container grown plants to allow for better establishment. Laurels and Beech are now the most popular hedges as they are both virtually free of any form of troubles that can affect other hedges
Likewise, TREE planting from bare roots has come to an end and container grown trees should be used from now on.
ROSE bushes should be pruned back by now so if you haven’t done it get it done now at the first opportunity as they are well sprouted already and even some flower buds showing! New bushes can also be planted now.
FERTILIZE all your shrub beds as soon as you can as the plants are all getting ready to burst into growth and would appreciate a ready supply of food to back up this surge in growth! Poultry manure is very good general fertilizer for all shrubs.
FRUIT TREES should be planted up over the coming weeks so that they are in the ground before the flowers open and growth starts. Apple trees need a partner to help pollination and get good crops, so make sure that when planting up you have room for at least two trees as that makes the bees job much easier.
The VEGE garden activity should be in full swing with potatoes being planted up and sowings of all kinds of vegetables taking place from now on. Early sowings will benefit from being protected with polythene or fleece to keep the temperatures up a little bit higher and speed up germination. Young plants are also available of lettuce, cabbage, spinach etc that you can plant up right away to get an early crop in. Peas, beans, sweet corn, courgette, pumpkins can be started off on kitchen window sills to help the seeds to germinate and the baby plants get off to a quicker start.
PATIO containers and WINDOW BOXES can be planted up with Pansy, Viola and Primroses for instant colour for the next few weeks and then from the middle of May it will be the time for the summer bedding plants. If you plant the summer annuals any earlier you might have to bring them inside at night time so they don’t get burnt in the late spring frosts. If you have a polytunnel or a bright conservatory/porch you can get to work in planting your window boxes and hanging baskets so they will have filled out a little before its time to put them all out in the second half of May.
SOW seeds of some of the easier to grow annuals like, Sweet Pea, Nasturtiums, Calendula now in containers inside so you will have loads of little plants that you can dot around the garden later on.
So, plenty to do there and let’s hope the weather co-operates so we can get the jobs done and we can then enjoy the garden in the summer that we are well due!
Drop into WillowField Garden Centre for further help and advice.
See you there! Margaret and Simon