Having been in lockdown since the beginning of the year and now with life starting to open up and move forward, life seems to be galloping on at an astonishing rate. April is always a busy month in the garden. The garden truly wakes up, we have had incredible displays of crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths and woodlands full of wild garlic. Tulips and bluebells are now taking over and alliums will be quick to follow. Seeds that have been sown and germinated in the greenhouse now need pricking out and hardening off, conditioning them to move to their final position in the garden.
I will keep an eye on the weather and if it looks like milder nights are ahead I will start planting out all my autumn and spring sown hardy annuals. We have experienced the strangest weather since my last column. Wall to wall sunshine and a few mid 20’s balmy days quickly followed by two weeks of consecutive frosts.
Let’s hope the bugs have been killed off! Green shoots on roses and hydrangeas have been frost nipped but don’t worry they will survive and produce new fresh growth when the weather warms up and you can prune off any frosted tips. As I sit and write this, it is raining for the first time in six weeks. The garden will be loving it.
Everywhere was so dry and in desperate need of water. The farmers will be happy too. It has been too cold to plant out many hardened off annuals but I did bite the bullet and planted out my sweet peas two weeks ago. They are very hardy and should survive -8 C. They have all survived. They haven’t put on much growth but once the frosts subside, the days lengthen further and the temperature increases they will thrive. It is a busy time of the year for vegetable growers too.
Spring crops sown in the greenhouse will be conditioned and planted out when the frosts are over. A lot of seeds can be directly sown at this time of the year. I would recommend directly sowing spinach, cut and come again lettuce, beetroot, swiss chard and radishes.
I have a much greater success rate if I start peas, mange tout, runner beans, broad beans, french beans, sweetcorn, broccoli and kale indoors and then transplant out. I planted potatoes over Easter and I hope their shoots will break ground soon. As soon as they do I will mound them up to cover over. This protects from any further frosts and helps produce a more productive plant. All the dahlias have been potted up and are starting to sprout. I will not be planting any pot grown dahlias out until at least mid May or when I am certain the last frosts have been.
There will be lots of growth on all your perennials and climbers. Tie in fresh young growth to prevent any wind damage and start to stake your perennials. They grow so fast at this time of year and suddenly it’s too late to stake. Feed – feed your garden and pots. I like to use Blood, Fish and Bone or Bonemeal when transplanting out any seedlings to give them a boost. I also use Vitax Q4 pellets for all the beds both flower and vegetable beds.
Box blight can be real problem for many. At this time of year I use TopBuxus Health Mix on all the box in the garden. It is a foliar feed and I mix it and use in a sprayer. I have found it really works and keeps the box healthy. If you do have any signs of box blight, cut back straight away any affected area and feed with TopBuxus.
If you need any specific advice, join me over on Instagram @sashinthegarden. I host “Friday Night Drinks” live each Friday from the greenhouse when I answer your gardening dilemmas alongside a delicious cocktail! There are lots of tutorials and advice and I’m always here to help feel free to get in touch.