Sunshine and showers, April
April is here and Spring has finally sprung. With daffodils and cherry trees starting to bloom there’s many jobs to do outside. Expect the inevitable April showers this month but with sunny days too, when you can turn your attention to the lawn, garden and vegetable patch. Just watch out for those chilly frosts...
Here are this month's six jobs for the garden:
Tip 1 - Deadhead Spring-Flowering Bulbs
Deadhead spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinths and tulips as soon as the flowers finish. Cut the spent flower head off the stem by simply pinching out between finger and thumb or by using clean shears or secateurs. The foliage is then left to die back naturally so that all the energy can go back into the bulb, encouraging the plant to store energy instead of setting seed. All ready to make more beautiful blooms for the next year!
Tip 2 - Plant hardy annuals, herbs and wildflower seeds
If you’ve been dreaming of having a salad garden of your own, Spring is the perfect time of the year to star. Many vegetables including lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas and beans — and perennial herbs such as chives and mint can now be grown from seeds outdoors. Scatter the seeds in 4 to 6 inches wide bands or rows to increase yields. If you have limited space, you can start growing them in a pot, container or planter by your kitchen door. Just make sure the soil is warm and moist, which helps makes the seeds germinate quickly. This could be actioned either mid-spring to early summer which is April to June, or late summer in September. Regular watering is a vital tool to help grow the seedlings in the height of summer. Here are some tips to growing a salad garden, courtesy of Savvy Gardening.
Tip 3 - Clean Bird Baths and Water Features
Wash out bird feeders, bird baths and outdoor fountains to keep the water lines clear and free of obstruction and to help keep your birds healthy, happy and coming back for more over the coming summer months. Give the bath and feeders a thorough clean, scrub well to remove algae and other dirt. You can use diluted household disinfectants or cleaners specifically formulated for bird baths, but make sure that you rinse the bath out thoroughly to remove any traces of chemicals. You can then rinse out the bath every 2-3 days to remove any build-up of bird droppings, algae, dead leaves and other debris, and refill with clean water. Since there is a small but real risk of infections like salmonella being transmitted to people, always clean the bird bath outdoors using separate utensils, wear gloves and wash your hands when finished. To help prolong the life of your bath, respray with a water-repellent finish annually. We recommend using Fabsil Universal Protector.
Tip 4 - Weed Borders
By keeping on top of weeding over April and May, you can enjoy a largely weed-free garden for the rest of the year. Use a hoe to scrape-out annual weeds between vegetable crops and established plants in the border but deal with perennial weeds individually using a garden fork to be sure to remove the roots. Vinegar is a great natural weed killer as it contains acetic acid. It’s best to use 5% acetic acid white vinegar. Simply dab the vinegar directly onto the leaves of weeds taking care to cover nearby plants with polythene, so that they are not harmed, or pour the vinegar directly into a spray bottle and spray the desired weeds. Depending on what weeds you’re trying to eradicate, you may see die off straight away, whilst some weeds may take 14-21 days before you notice die off.
Tip 5 - Feed the Lawn
At this time of the year, your lawn is actively growing and requires feeding, weeding and regular mowing. Spring is also an ideal time to sow new lawns or repair bare patches. Use a rake to remove dead grass and other debris in the area. Then feed the lawn with your choice of lawn fertiliser or grass seed, e.g. perennial ryegrass. To improve seed germination, barely cover the seed with soil, tamp gently and water regularly until the seed germinates. Dig out any perennial weeds. Aerate the lawn by spiking it with a garden fork. Mow growing grass but keep the blades fairly high still and do check long grass for hibernating animals such as hedgehogs and field mice before mowing.
Tip 6 - Move Houseplants Outside
April is a good time to give your houseplants a holiday outdoors as soon as frost danger has passed. Pick a shady spot in your garden where they are protected against strong winds. For succulents and hibiscus, place them to a brighter location. Don’t forget to feed your houseplants with a dilute solution of liquid fertiliser every time you water them outdoors. This method will help encourage them to grow and develop more quickly.
Let the spring gardening begin!