With Easter early this year, let’s hope the weather will allow us out into the garden.
Beware of late frosts that will spoil vulnerable plants and soft shoots – have some fleece handy and check the weather forecasts, if we’re likely to get a frost put the fleece over the tops of plants to protect them.
Shrubs and borders
Apply a general purpose fertilizer to borders now, ideally before you add any mulches of compost or well rotted manure, so it goes straight into the ground to the roots. Make sure you use an ericaceous fertilizer on such plants as Camellias, Rhododendrons and Azalea, as they require extra trace elements.
Dead head bulbs particularly daffodils, leave the green foliage on and top dress with fertilizer, they’ll send the food back to the bulb and you’ll get a better display of flowers next year. Remember to dead head spring flowering bedding plants as well to encourage more flowers. Snowdrops can be split at this time of year into smaller clumps.
Bulbs for summer
Many of the summer flowering bulbs and tubers can be planted outside as the weather warms up – Lilies, Dahlias, and Gladioli. Plant lily bulbs on their side so that water doesn’t lie in the scales and cause them to rot. Lilies, especially the newer Tree Lilies benefit from being started off in pots and planted outside once growing strongly. Dahlias can either be started off in pots inside or put straight out into the garden once the danger of frosts has receded.
Erect stakes, canes and plant supports round herbaceous plants now before they get too tall and flop over. Start spraying Roses fortnightly against black spot, mildew and aphids, ideally with one of the combined products specifically aimed at roses.
Hoe borders regularly on warm dry days to keep annual weeds from establishing themselves. Persistent weeds such as ground elder, bramble 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 weeds root system. If this type of weed is growing amongst your plants treat new growth with Roundup Gel which will be taken back to the weeds roots and kills the whole plant.
Slugs and snails love young herbaceous shoots, especially in damp conditions. Use a liquid slug killer, pellets or one of the organic dressings to deter them.
Remove moss and weeds from paths, patios and drives with one of the chemicals designed for this purpose – they’ll keep your area weed free for the season. Read the label carefully before applying and follow the instructions.
After all the wet weather of the last 12 months there’s plenty of moss in lawns at the moment. Remember the golden rule with lawns never rake moss out while it’s still alive, you’ll just spread it everywhere. If you’ve only got moss in your lawn use a mixture of iron sulphate and sulphate of ammonia at a rate of 1 part of Iron to 3 parts of Sulphate of Ammonia mixed with 10-20 parts of silver sand and apply at a rate of 140gm/m². Once the moss has died and gone black it can be raked out. Aerate the lawn with a fork or spikes on shoes to improve drainage. If you’ve got weeds as well use one of the combined feed, weed and moss killers. Any bare patches can then are reseeded, feed regularly through the growing season.
Fruit and veg
Cover fruit trees and bushes with fruit cage netting to stop the birds feeding on juicy new buds.
Annual herbs can be sown now – fennel, parsley, savoury, dill all need replenishing every year. Perennial herb varieties can also be planted, 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 plenty of 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 regular intervals to give a steady supply of vegetables.
Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumber should only be grown in a heated greenhouse at the moment. If it’s too cold for you at night without heat, its too cold for the likes of Tomato and Cucumber!
Don’t be tempted to plant summer flowering bedding plants out until the end of April, beginning of May. They are far too tender for the late frosts we always get.