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April in the Garden (Courtesy of ‘The Sunday Gardener’)
Good garden advise suggests April is a good time, if you have time, to give the garden a general feed just as the growing season is starting. Sprinkle a general fertiliser around the base of all the shrubs and plants. Suitable fertilisers would be blood fish and bone, Growmore, Chicken Manure and slow release pellets. Handle with gloves and don't do on a windy day unless you want to sprinkle yourself with blood fish and bone. Dig in gently just under the surface and if rain is not imminent water in as well.
It will soon be time to support new growth on plants. Over the years many types of plant ties, simple string, bendy ones, green metal ties on rolls have been tried but it seems that the simple raffia ties comes out tops. Raffia is very strong, doesn't look too intrusive on the plant, cheap, easily available and doesn't look offensive if it blows around or ends up in the compost heap. Raffia makes really good garden ties and looks good as well.
What to prune in April
Early to mid-spring, which covers April is a suitable time to prune Hydrangea Macrophylla the common Hydrangea and generally like the images on the left, often pink or blue but also white. If it is an established Hydrangea prune down to a bud or pair of buds and cut out about a third or a quarter of the older, more woody growth each year to make for new growth. If the Hydrangea is newly planted just prune down to a bud until the plant is more established with plenty of growth. For more about growing different types of Hydrangeas check out the link.
It's a good idea not to prune anything during severe weather and this can delay pruning if spring is very poor. In which case in April you can still prune Cornus which to maintain strong red colour for the winter is cut down to within a few buds to the base. Early flowering Erica (Heather) can be trimmed back once flowering has finished.
March or April are suitable times to sow, and in late April early May, plant out sweet peas. They look great in the border climbing up an obelisk or suitable support and add colour and height. Sweet peas like moisture and a tip is to line the trench with newspaper to aid moisture retention. If sweet peas get too dry they are prone to mildew.
Whether shop bought or home grown, Sweet peas need to be hardened off which means acclimatising the plants to the outside conditions. Put outside on warm days increasing the time until ready to plant out. Do this over a period of time so the young plants are fully ready for the rigours of the weather. It is advisable not to plant out during a chilly spell, this can knock back sweet peas (and any young plants veg or bedding) and if conditions are poor and cool could take weeks to pick up. If it’s cool they can hang around in pots longer.
If you are growing from seed or buy as small plants a good tip is to pinch out the growth point, the tip, which will make the plant shoot sideways which will prevent it getting leggy and make a bushier plant.
Toilet roll holders are ideal for growing all types of peas and beans to give a long root run. You will see when you come to plant them out the roots are full down to the bottom of the tube and often curled around.
The only point to be careful around is to water on top and avoid soaking the tube as the cardboard will degenerate if it is too wet for too longer. Given that to get a decent crop of broad beans, runners peas and french beans means dozens of seeds to buy root trainers is too expensive and the cardboard tubes work just as well, and more green than using more plastic pots.
Make a wildflower meadow
A wildflower patch creates a real splash of colour and you don't need lots of room and time. There is an easy way to do this by using a pre seeded roll which is quick, easy and foolproof. If the idea of having a wildflower patch appeals then go to this link for detailed step by step growing guide follow the link to Growing a Wild Flower Meadow.
Raffia garden ties
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