The Gardener's Journal is a free monthly gardening guide delivered direct to your inbox.

Each month, receive tips on the top jobs needed in your garden as well as a wealth of information on a range of gardening topics. From sowing seeds to picking fruit, each month get access to information on the care and maintenance of your flowerbeds, vegetable plot and lawn. As with your own gardening diary, the journal is split into separate sections, each covering a different area of garden care.

Thursday 4 April 2013

This Month in your Garden - April

‘The season pricketh every gentle heart, and maketh him out of his sleep to start‘, wrote Chaucer in The
Knight’s Tale. There’s plenty to be done as the garden bursts into life. 

There is also an English proverb: ‘A cold April, the barn will fill’ and it’s wise to still keep an eye open for any signs of frost, to protect young shoots with fleece or cloches; similarly protect plants like Azaleas from cold winds. 

There’s still time to plant hardy herbaceous perennials but do so now as they will be putting on growth. Weeds are on the way so be prepared for clearing them, your hoe should be at hand. Look out for pests – greenfly, slugs and snails and you may wish to deal with them with biological treatment. 

Help any plants that need staking and tying. A sprinkling of hardy annual seeds in the borders will bear flowers for very little outlay and bring in birds and butterflies. Buy bedding as plug plants if you’re short on time and space, and this will save you money compared to buying plants at bedding out time. April is a good time to plant alpines.

You can be propagating hardy perennials, planting evergreen shrubs, propagating shrubs by layering, pruning roses and cutting back shrubs such as Buddleia Davidii. Lawns will need more frequent mowing and check in the borders for emerging self seeded plants to transplant or pot before weeding and mulching the border. As the weather warms weed borders and apply a mulch.

  • Dead head naturalized bulbs such as daffodils before they form seed heads, to keep them healthy 
  • Prick out and pot on seedlings to save overcrowding 
  • Divide sprouted dahlia tubers and pot them on 
  • Stop early flowering chrysanthemums by pinching out the growing tips 
  • Rake moss from the lawn 
  • Trim lavender 
  • Tidy salvias when new shoots appear 
  • Plant violas and pansies that have been hardened off 
  • Feed roses with a dressing of compound fertiliser 
  • Stake tall perennials 
  • Attend to the pond Plant sweet peas raised in the greenhouse if hardened off

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Lawn Care Questions and Answers - April

Q. Dead patches of grass have appeared in the lawn, even though I have aerated and scarified, and treated the grass, what could be causing this? M. Allen, Maidenhead.

The Lawn Care Guide – April

You did get the garden tractor or mower serviced didn’t you? What about the power tools? You’ll need them soon. 

The lawn will require frequent mowing from April onwards, depending on weather and location. Start cutting on the higher setting, then reduce the height gradually with each cut, not taking more than a third off the height of the grass with any one mowing.  

How to prune - April

Prune hardy fuchsias, Buddleia, Hydrangea, Leycesteria, Caryopteris, cornus (dogwood) and salix (willow). Prune evergreen shrubs, hedges, topiary and trim formal hedges

The Vegetable Plot – April

As April progresses you can get sowing with summer vegetables outdoors. Peas are a good start, making further sowings at three week intervals until early June. 

You can try dwarf French beans grown in pots in the greenhouse. Harden off plants grown in cold frames – onion, leek, cauliflower, pea, broad bean and lettuce – ready to plant out later in the month. Train and top dress early cucumbers grown in frames. Start leeks in a greenhouse.

The Big Glut Recipe – April

Fillets of Dover sole with watercress, crab and lemon

Ah, the month of watercress, purple sprouting broccoli, lettuce, spinach and prawns. And watercress has been described as a powerhouse vegetable. This is a recipe originally inspired by James Martin.

Serves 2