Whatever the weather, there are jobs you can be getting on with in April in your kitchen garden.
- If you are planning any seed sowing straight into the ground, wait until your lawn begins to put on some length. This is a good indication that your soil is warming up.
- Weeds! As with every other month of the year, keep on top of them. If you have large areas of weeds, you can use weed control matting, cardboard, or several layers of newspaper to stem their growth. Quite a few vegetables will be quite happy to be planted through these covers giving you much less weeding to do during the season.
- Top tips for deterring common pests include:
- Using netting to protect brassicas from pigeons
- Using fleece to protect from aphids, flea beetle, and cabbage root fly
- Asparagus beetle may start to appear mid to late April. Make sure you pick off any larvae or adults immediately when you see them.
- Slugs! Decide what control method you will use at the beginning of the season and have it all in place. Don’t start the vegetable season with avoidable disasters.
- April heralds the arrival of blossom in gardens. Unfortunately, you are not safely through the frost when the blossom is on the plants and trees. If you do cover the trees to protect the blossom, do make sure you remove the fleece during the day so that pollinating insects can do their work. If you have newly planted fruit trees, then remove the blossom. This may feel counterintuitive, but the first year that the trees are in the ground they need to be putting the establishment of roots above the production of fruit. Make sure you keep all fruit trees and bushes/canes well watered.
- This time of year is so important for establishing growth that will encourage a healthy crop. An area of 1m x 1m or more should be kept free from weeds around all fruit trees and bushes. Add straw mulch under and around established fruit bushes and trees, making sure 20cm from the trunk or stem is kept clear so as not to attract mice.
- This is the perfect time of year to be top dressing all container grown plants. Fruit grown in containers will benefit from a mix of: sharp grit, garden compost, coir, and loam.
- If you are looking to attract bees and other beneficial insects, planting some herbs now can be a great decision.
- Herbs do not like heavy soil. If you need to, adding grit will aid drainage in heavy soils. Leafy herbs will thrive especially well if the soil has had a feed of garden compost or well-rotted manure.
- Existing herbs can be revitalised by scraping the top off of their existing soil and then adding potting compost.
- Mint will thrive under most situations. Now is a great time to check for rust. If there is any on your existing plants or the soil where you planted mint last year, dig out the area and throw away the soil. Plant any new seeds or plants in a new location in your garden.
Following last months’ time change, make the most of the lighter evenings and start to get to grips with your garden for the spring season.