Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Garden diary - April 2013

' Rain on good friday and Easter day, a good year for grass and a bad for hay.'

Having survived the long gloom of Lent, the gardener will be fitter from their abstentions and feel in good shape to get on in the garden, as April is a month of many tasks which will brook no delay. Growth is now so strong that it will soon be too late to prune or transplant many plants without risk of injury. Sown seeds should be checked and any that look doubtful should be re-sown now rather than delaying on the off chance of improvement. There is truth in the old saying  'One for the pigeon and one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow.'

April is a good month for planting Laurels, conifers, hollies and other evergreen shrubs and hedging plants.

The later roses can be pruned the better, we often see roses being pruned at all times of winter but it was thought the thing to wait until April, the idea being that the best dormant buds are not encouraged into growth too soon, as an April or May frost is by no means uncommon, the danger then comes with the strong morning sun, it is the quick thaw that so damages the soft sappy growths. So resist for as long as you can. One may be fortunate in having a wife who can prune roses with a look, otherwise we must get out ourselves and tackle this not disagreeable task. Climbers may safely been tackled last month, the small side branches off the main stems cut back to two inches. The hybrid tea bush roses should be cut back to three or four outward facing buds. It will be worth feeding the roses now and later on in the summer to encourage the new displays. Spraying with a fungicide at fortnightly intervals until June will keep the leaves shiny and fresh. Evergreens such as laurel, cupressus, box and yew may also be pruned now.

Towards the end of the month we may plant dahlias, fairly deep to ensure the new shoots miss any late frosts.
As Forsythias finish flowering they should be pruned, cutting out the stems that have just flowered and leaving the young shoots which will give the best display next year. Daffodils and other early flowering bulbs should be dead headed and allowed to die down naturally, many of us resent these untidy obstacles to their lawn mower but the bulbs must be given time to build up reserves for next spring.

In the all important vegetable garden the first great event for me is the planting of the first earlies.If we are moon planters we may see that the March full moon fell on the 27th. According to the rules, potatoes should be planted between the first night of a waning gibbous and the new moon which fit very nicely with our aim to get the first Earlies in on around the end of the month. The April full moon falls on the 25th so we may take this as our start time for planting main crop potatoes. If we spy any Murdoch tabloids about the house we may profitably use them as lining to the potato trenches, assuming we are not overly worried about our potatoes imbibing salacious gossip and prurient tales, this material will expand and hold water, saving us more time.  We may continue sowing lettuce, peas and radishes as well as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, broad beans and kale. Parsnips sown last month may be thinned, this is very important as overcrowding in the nursery will lead to thin straggly specimens which will never recover their figures.
In the event of a frosty spell, that bale of straw we have been carrying about this last month may now be used to spread around any new potatoes that are showing. Main crop carrots should be sown towards the end of the month. Leeks and onions can still be sown but without delay. Trenches for runner beans may now be dug. For a bumper crop we may dig in a foot and a half of compost or horsey stuff which will settle down in time for sowing or planting out later on in May. Though Runner beans are a relatively easy crop, they do give what they get.

So as the sun strengthens and the ground tarnishes we must keep that hoe going in the beds and borders, this frequent airing and stirring of the soil really is a great aid to growth and general well being in the garden.

Content kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit