April is the time to…

All around the garden

Prune sambucus
Sue uses heavy duty loppers to prurne mature Sambucus
Week 1
BULBS: Deadhead any early spring-flowering bulbs.
CANNAS: Split and repot canna lilies if the pots they are in are too small.
DAHLIAS: Start watering dahlias in the heated greenhouse to encourage new growth that can be used for cuttings.
HERBACEOUS PERENNIALS: Divide large clumps if needed, then replant smaller pieces.
SELF-SEEDED PLANTS: Dig up any self-set seedlings growing in the wrong place and replant carefully in better positions. Water them in well – don’t allow them to dry out, as the roots will take a few weeks to establish.

Week 2
BULBS: Identify and label any bulbs in flower, if not already known. We plant out lilies in some areas of the garden.
EVERGREEN SHRUBS: Dig up any growing in the wrong place and move them.
SNOWDROPS: Lift, divide and replant overgrown clumps of snowdrops ‘in the green’, which means after they finish flowering, but before the leaves die back.
LAWNS: For your annual lawn maintenance, now’s the time to scarify, aerate, top-dress, feed, and seed or turf any bare patches.

Week 3
CHICKEN MANURE: Apply pelleted chicken manure to all beds and borders to give plants a feed.
DAFFODILS: Start deadheading daffodils regularly.
Pruning Sambucus
Make a sloping cut just above a leaf bud
PRUNING: We prune the following plants:
Artemisia, Buddleja, Caryopteris, Cornus, Cotinus, Erica, Forsythia, Fuschia, Garrya, grasses, Hydrangea, Hypericum, Jasminum nudiflorum, Lavender, Lonicera purpusii, Mahonia, Penstemon, Roses, Salix, Sambucus, Santolina, Spiraea japonica, Vinca.
LAWNS: We give our lawns their first cut of the year.
PONDS: Take off any nets protecting ponds from falling leaves (unless you have trouble with herons taking your fish). In spring you can top up ponds and water features if they need it, and return pumps to the water.
SEED SOWING: Sow your choice of various annuals and perennials.

Week 4
FUCHSIAS AND PELARGONIUMS: Cut these back in spring to provide bushier plants. Any suitable material you have left over can be used as cuttings and propagated.
PLANT SUPPORTS: Place these around the garden where tall-growing plants are. They will provide extra support to tall stems later in the season. Put up canes or obelisks in readiness for climbing annuals.
TENDER PLANTS: Repot these if they are becoming pot-bound, and top-dress other potted plants to give them a smarter appearance.
WATERING: Depending on the weather, water plants as and when needed. Water plants in containers as the weather warms up – even when it rains, a pot is unlikely to get a good soak.

Pricking out
When pricking out seedlings, hold them gently by a leaf, never the delicate stem
Week 1
CELERY: Pot on into 8cm (3in) pots.
CUCUMBER: We sow cucumber ‘Bella’ into 8cm (3in) pots.
MARIGOLDS: Pot on into 8cm (3in) pots.
MELON: We will sow melon ‘Lunabel’ into 8cm (3in) pots.
PUMPKIN: We sow pumpkin ‘Hundredweight’ into 8cm (3in) pots.

Week 2
BROAD BEAN: We sow ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ into modules.
CELERY: We sow the varieties ‘Golden Spartan’ and ‘Giant Pascal’ into modules.
VENTILATE: Open the doors and windows if it’s warm outside. Open vents mid-morning and close them again after lunch to allow the sun time to warm up the greenhouse before evening draws in.
INSECTICIDE: Spray an insecticidal soft-soap solution in the greenhouses as needed, mainly to control aphids.
PEAS: We sow the variety ‘Little Marvel’ into guttering.
POTATOES: Harvest the remainder of the first earlies from large pots.
Harvesting first earlies
Harvesting a crop of first early potatoes grown in a large pot
PRICK OUT: Prick out seedlings, including celeriac, so they can grow on into plants. Put them in modules or 7cm (3in) pots filled with peat-free compost. Take care when pricking out – hold the seedlings by the leaves, but don’t touch the delicate stems.
RUDBECKIA: We pot on all varieties into 7cm (3in) pots.
TOMATOES: We pot them all on into 2-litre pots.
TURNIP: We multi sow ‘Golden Ball’ into modules.
Week 3
BROAD BEANS: We sow the varieties ‘Crimson Flowered’ and ‘Express.
HARDENING OFF: We move out all modules and pots ready for hardening off in the polytunnel.
Week 4
BROAD BEANS: We sow the variety ‘Crimson Flowered’ into deep modules and 8cm (3in) pots.
CHARD: We sow the variety ‘Bright Lights’ into modules.
POTTING ON: We pot on the rest of the cucumbers, melons and pumpkins into 3-litre pots.
RUNNER BEANS: We sow the varieties ‘Celebration’ and ‘Enorma’ into 8cm (3in) pots.


Underlay collar
A collar of carpet underlay protects young plants from cabbage root fly
(The varieties listed are those chosen by Sue and Nick at Barnsdale Gardens, although there are, of course, many others you could opt for. Check the packet instructions of each variety for recommended sowing and/or planting times).
Week 1
BROAD BEANS: Plant out broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’.
CABBAGES: Plant out cabbage ‘Golden Acre Primo’.
CARROT: Plant out carrot ‘Siroco’.
PEAS: Plant out pea ‘Douce Provence’ under a cloche.
LETTUCE: Plant out lettuce ‘Tom Thumb’.
Week 2
CABBAGES: We put collars made from old carpet underlay (illustrated) around cabbages planted out last week, as a preventative barrier against cabbage root fly.
ONIONS: We plant out the varieties ‘Ailsa Craig’, ‘Lancastrian’ and ‘Mammoth Improved’.
POTATOES: We plant out the rest of our first early, second early and maincrop potatoes.
SWEET PEAS: We plant these out.
Weeks 3-4
DIGGING: In spring you can dig over any areas of ground that you didn’t have time for last autumn. Fork over the dug soil and rake down, ready for sowing. To prepare for runner beans, fill a trench with partially rotted compost and cover.
PEAS: We plant out the varieties ‘Petit Pois’ and ‘Purple Podded’ and plant out the sweet pea ‘Geoff Hamilton’.
RHUBARB: Make room for a few crowns (try ‘Champagne’ or ‘Victoria’) or you’ll be kicking yourself come summer.
SPINACH: Tidy through an overwintered spinach crop.
SPRING ONION: We direct sow the variety ‘White Lisbon’.
POTATOES: We plant the maincrop variety ‘Desiree’.

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