April Gardener

science for the gardener 3April is here – Easter is sadly behind us – what should we be
doing in our gardens now? Make yourself a list by walking round the garden with a notebook and the tasks will soon start adding up plus, most important, your ideas for Spring, Summer and Autumn flower beds. Also vegetables and glass house if appropriate will require your attention.

Don’t groan, but now’s the time to start mowing but not if the ground is still very wet. Raise mower blades and mow more frequently, gradually lowering blade height with each cut. Rake lawns gently to eliminate thatch and then if necessary treat with moss and weed killers. Add spring (high nitrogen) lawn feed with selective lawn weed killer.

It is very important to spring clean and disinfect the greenhouse to get rid of over-wintering pests and diseases; spider mites are the most troublesome but many garden pathogens regard the greenhouse as a luxury winter hotel.

Young plants (including over wintered cuttings) can be taken out of the greenhouse first, to be hardened off under cover, and allow you some space to move around.

As the ground begins to warm now is the time to replace some of the nutrients that have been used up during the year. Gently hoe over the soil to avoid disturbing any new growth and then add a layer of compost or manure, remembering that ericaceous plants need a special ericaceous compost and soil if they are to thrive happily. Vegetable plants may require liming but take a quick pH reading (7.5 to 8.5 is ideal) using an inexpensive electronic tester easily available from garden centres or on-line.

As plants begin to flower add a liquid feed and slow release fertiliser can be added, especially to pots. It is also good to add water crystals to pots and hanging baskets for when those lovely sunny days catch us unawares – here’s hoping!