Your Garden in April

By John Dunster

Daffodils

Remove spent blooms from daffodils, so preventing them producing seed heads and give them a feed of liquid fertiliser or blood, fish and bone. Leave the foliage to die down naturally for at least six weeks, don’t forget to water any bulbs you may have in containers.

Hostas

hostas2.jpg - 22 KBHostas

Every few years hostas in containers need dividing and reinvigorating, also providing new plants at the same time. Take the plant out of the pot and cut into segments with a sharp knife or spade. Discard the woody centre and replant the remaining segments in a mixture of multi purpose compost and John Innes No3. Water them well and they will quickly establish into large plants.

Basal Cuttings

Cut away the strongest outer new leafy shoots of herbaceous clumps of phlox, delphiniums, lupins and campanulas to make cuttings for new plants. Press a knife into the soil where the shoot emerges and check they have a solid fleshy base. Prepare each cutting by trimming the bottom and snipping off the lower leaves. Firm the cuttings in around the edge of a pot, water and leave to root in a frame or sheltered spot.

Summer Flowering Bulbs

Plant summer flowering bulbs for example alliums, gladioli, oriental lilies, crocosmia and galtonias. Before planting check for the specific conditions they need, most like free draining soil and plenty of sun, planting depths will vary. Add a layer of grit to the surface to mark their position which will also help to repel attack from slugs and snails.

Rosemary (The plant)

Keep rosemary in good shape by lightly pruning from the start. Shorten last year’s growth by two thirds and cut back short any that are ruining the shape of the plant. Pruning encourages the formation of new shoots as well as stimulating flowering shoots that will attract bees and other pollinating insects.

Sowing Outdoors

When the soil has warmed by in mid April it will be time to make sowings of beetroot, carrots parsnips and lettuce. Parsnips can be difficult to germinate, so always use fresh seed and sow in clusters in the rows.

Sawfly

sawfly larvae.jpg - 14.9 KBSawfly Larvae

Keep an eye open for the larva of sawfly on currants and gooseberries. You can either remove them by hand or cut off leaves affected by colonies and destroy them.

Container Plants

Compost in containers loses its structure over time causing the plant to lose its vigour. Fast growing and newly established plants need repotting at least every one to three years, while mature trees and shrubs can grow well in the same pot for several years if well cared for. To get the best results in pots repot in early spring, select a pot just one or two sizes larger. Tease out compacted roots, cutting thick ones back by around one third. Use fresh compost when refilling, ideally a soil based compost with added grit. Plant at the same depth as before leaving o space at the top to allow for watering. With larger plants where repotting is no longer practical scrape away some of the top soil and replenish with a top dressing of fresh compost and controlled release fertiliser.

Plant Potatoes

Dig out a trench deep enough to cover the top of your tubers with at least 3″ or 4″ of soil. Sprinkle some general fertiliser along the base of the trench then stand the tubers 12″ apart for earlies and 16″ for maincrop, with rows 30″ apart. Rake the soil back over the trench and when the leaves appear rake over more soil for protection against frost before finally earthing up.

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