April is perhaps the first month when it’s both warm enough and light enough to think about pottering in the garden in the evening. This means you can more easily keep on top of those little jobs, like dead-heading or topping up your bird feeders, as you go. And there are certainly plenty of jobs you can be doing in your garden in April; here’s our reminder!
Enjoy some instant colour by planting up things like polyanthus or primulas in pots or at the front of your borders. They will give added spring verve to your garden and help to fill in that gap between early spring bulbs and later ones, like tulips.
You can also think about planting up hanging baskets and pots with summer bedding plants too now. We’d recommend a mix of plants that will keep you blooming right through the season (as well as providing more variety for insects). Just make sure you keep them inside or carefully protected until we are well clear of any frosts.
April starts to be warm enough to think about planting some seeds outside, straight into their growing position. Sunflower seeds, herbs like coriander and parsley, fast-growing crops (like radishes) or even microgreens should all start to geminate now if sown in a sunny spot (or pot) outside. Just ensure the soil is not too water-logged as this tends to mean the soil temperature is still a little too low for success.
Hopefully the seeds you have sown previously are sprouting well and ready to be potted on. If your seedlings have been grown indoors so far, think about acclimatising them to their planting position gradually if you can; a spell in an unheated greenhouse or under a cloche will help harden off anything that is ultimately going to be planted outside.
As the plants wake up, of course, so do the pests that like to eat them so now is the time to think about protecting your tender shoots from their jaws. Of course, we’d recommend a non-chemical route if you possibly can, in order to protect the other animals (and humans) who use your garden. Picking off slugs, snails or beetles can be really effective (if you can bring yourself to do it!), while a solution of soapy water works to deter most aphids. Maintaining good plant hygiene (removing dead or diseased material and ensuring plants get plenty of air) is also a great deterrent to anything that likes to hide in dark corners.
We love this article from Garden Organic about common garden pests and diseases and how to tackle them in the most garden-friendly way: https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/pests-and-diseases
Now is a great time to reinvigorate established clumps of plants by digging them up and dividing them. This works well for hardy perennials, such as asters, daylilies or hostas, as well as hardy herbs, like chives or lemon balm.
Dig up the entire clump as one and lift it out on to a firm surface. Depending on how large the clump is, you may get several smaller clumps so look for natural division points that will leave you both healthy foliage and strong roots on each smaller clump. Depending on the nature of the root ball, you may find that two garden forks inserted back-to-back and then wiggled apart will be enough to separate out the clumps. If not, a sharp garden spade inserted firmly will cut through it. Although this looks like a serious operation, at this time of year, plants generally respond well to firm treatment and it will spur them into more vigorous growth.
Plant one of the clumps back into the original hole, watering in well, and then you have more plants to pot up or give away as you please!
It’s not just the plants in our gardens that will be growing well by now but also anything indoors or in our greenhouses.
Houseplants generally will benefit from more regular watering from now until the autumn. If they have been in the same pot and soil for a while, they will probably also enjoy some additional feeding too. There are, of course, many plant foods available (and we have a choice in stock at our Titchfield Centre) but there are also some home-made options too. Things like crushed eggs shells, cooled vegetable cooking water and coffee grounds will all enrich the soil. We love this blog from Urban Garden Gal for plenty of DIY suggestions:
Time also to think about ventilation. On fine days, open windows (including greenhouse vents and doors) to ensure your plants have plenty of fresh air. If it’s a sunny day, perhaps think about moving your houseplants outside for a few hours too; they’ll love it! Just be careful of scorching.