Good Gardening Tips – April

With Easter rapidly approaching, now’s the time to get out into the garden…

Prepare

If you haven’t already done so, apply a general purpose fertilizer to borders, ideally it should be done before you add any mulches of compost or well rotted manure, so it goes straight into the ground to the roots. Use fish, blood and bone, bonemeal or pelleted chicken fertiliser.

Dead head spring flowering bulbs to stop them producing seeds, and add a dressing of bonemeal or bulb booster to encourage them to send food back to the bulb for a good flower display next year.

Summer colour

Annual seeds such as calendula, candytuft and godetia can be sown directly where they are to flower. Mix the seed with silver sand so that you see where you have sown it, then thin out the seedlings once you can handle them easily.

Plant summer flowering bulbs and tubers outside now. Always plant lilies on their side so that water doesn’t lie in the scales of the bulb, ideally putting a layer of gravel into the base of the hole to help drainage. Try planting some of the new ‘tree’ lilies, there’re reputed to produce up to 30 blooms per stem and can reach 2.4m in height.

Don’t plant summer flowering bedding plants, geraniums or fuchsias out until the end of April, beginning of May. They are far too tender for the late frosts we always get.

Pests

Start spraying roses fortnightly against black spot and mildew, greenfly and other pests. Perennial weeds such as ground elder and couch grass can be treated with a weedkiller containing glyphosphate once they have some young growth on them – this way it’s taken quickly to the root system. Persistent weeds may need several applications, but always wait until there’s 10-20cm of soft new growth.

Watch out for signs of slug and snail damage on young herbaceous shoots, such as delphiniums, lupins and hostas. Use a liquid slug killer or pellets – there are also several organic based ones on the market.

Lawns

Treat lawns now for any moss – there are various products available from garden centres. If your lawn has weeds in it, use one of the complete products that do everything – feed, weedkill and mosskill. Remember the golden rule with lawns, which is never rake up moss while it’s still alive, you’ll just spread the spores everywhere. Aerate the lawn with a fork or spikes on shoes to improve drainage. Any bare patches can then are reseeded, fertilise regularly through the growing season.

Herbs and vegetables

Annual herbs can be sown now – fennel, parsley and dill all need replenishing every year. Perennial herbs can be planted out now, remember to water and feed regularly so you can keep cropping throughout the year.

Watch out for late frosts if you’ve got potatoes in tubs with leaf growth – always protect at night. Sow your first and second early potatoes followed by maincrops, again watching out for late frosts once the foliage appears.

Carrots, celery, beetroot, leeks, onions, broad beans and lettuce can all be sown or planted outside during April. Sow at intervals to give yourself a regular supply of vegetables.

Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers should only be grown in a heated greenhouse at the moment.

Dates for gardeners!

April 7 will see the Bridgnorth Horticultural Society spring show at St Leonard’s Church.

April 9 four gardens in Morville will open for the Shropshire Historic Churches Trust. The Dower House garden, Nos 1 & 2 The Gatehouse at Morville Hall and Poplar Cottage Farm, 2 until 5pm, £5 admission, plants for sale.

April 28 Lyndale House, Astley Abbots, near Bridgnorth, will have an open garden 2 until 5pm, £3 admission.

April’s tips are provided by Ann Winwood of Lealan Garden Centre, Shipley.

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