Well, things aren’t really much more positive, in the big wide world,than last time I wrote, but I am feeling more cheerful, despite just returning from the dreadfully strange experience of food shopping at the moment. There is bank holiday weekend looming with nowhere to go and no socialising to be done so let’s get out to the garden, as there is plenty to do.
First things first.For all those of you out there looking at your plot with more time on your hands than normal what should you do. Let’s make a list, Weeding, Pruning, Feeding, Seed Sowing and Potting on of seeds already germinated and growing.
Weeding. The Gallery above is a rogues gallery for you of a few, it is by no means conclusive, of the likely suspects you will come across in your borders. All of them need to come out. Some of them are easier to get rid of than others. There is a selection of growing strategies amongst our rogues,spreading roots, tap roots that go down forever and very little root but a lot of seeds. One thing to be sure of though. Acting now will save you having much more weeding to do in seasons to come.
What to do with the weeds. Our garden bin scheme is on hold during the crisis. So with no easy fix available a plan is required. Weeds without big fleshy roots can be left to dry out and then composted safely. Fleshy or tap rooted weeds can be left in a pile to be binned at a later date.
We seems to have very quickly moved from having soil like a quagmire to having baked dry soil starting to crack. Whilst we are all relishing the opportunity to finally be able to get on the soil to dig. For pots and newly planted treasures just remember they will need a water.
Feed, if you haven’t already give your established plants a boost with some granular feed and pots with either slow release pellets or some liquid feed. Growmore or poultry manure are good all round feeds and can just be sprinkled around by the handful, like feeding the chickens. Just try and avoid getting growmore pellets sitting on the new foliage as they can burn it. Choose a day when rain is forecast if you are worried or just give the border a water once your done if you can’t just shake the foliage free. Miracle Grow is a good liquid feed for things you want to be leafy. Tomorite will help anything you want to flower or fruit.
Keep an eye out for pests, Greenfly have already happily colonised my climbing rose and it took quite a while to squidge them all off. The ants were already hard at work trying to increase the aphid population to provide them with more access to lovely sweet sap. If you are resorting to spraying your Rose’s against black spot you should be acting now. Spray first thing in the morning, as in 7ish or last thing at night to minimise harm to the bees. It is much better to remove all the black spot leaves as soon as you see them and try and keep the plant healthy in itself with nutrients and water so it doesn’t succumb so easily. Increasing air flow around the plant is also a good help in the fight against this nuisance.
Ignoring the ridiculously warm weather today which confuses everything into thinking is time to begin planting out bedding plants and have a bbq. There are plants that can be direct sown into the soil now, for those of you experimenting with veggies. Beetroot, peas, radishes, carrots, parsnips, some salad mixes, spinach and chard can all be started outside now. Maybe keep some protection handy in case we get snow! Beans of the runner and french varieties should be started in pots now. Half hardy flower seeds can be started off on a sunny window sill now and planted out mid may.
Pruning to be done now, last chance to prune back your Buddleja if you have left it this late. Pruning of Winter Jasmine Jasmine nudiflorum, winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima and Forsythia can all be carried out once finished flowering. Take out 1/3 of the old stems as low as you can and the reduce the height on the rest by 1/3 and you should keep it in good shape to flower again next year. With the winter Jasmine, keep an eye on shoots that touch the floor because they root easily. Don’t be tempted to prune bits off straggly looking Mock orange or Spirea, Deutzia or Wigellia as you will be cutting off the flowering stems. Also Don’t be too eager to take the fading blooms off your Hellebores as they will self seed. You should be dead heading hour Hydrangeas this weekend if you haven’t already and Penstemons and Salvia can be given a trim as it is forecast to be mild for a few days.
Dead head your daffodils now they are coming to an end to out the energy back into the bulb. A sprinkling of potash will help then flourish next year too.
Beautiful bronze young foliage on this cercidyllum japonicum. A very graceful tree with wonderful autumn foliage, which is coupled with the smell of toffee apples or caramel as the leafs fall. We will just have to hope we don’t get any late frosts while these new leaves are so delicate.
I think all in all the jobs list for April can be summed up as; 1, Be Vigilant pests and weeds strike quickly and well before plants actually get going so act fast when you spot any nasty. 2, Tempratures and water vary wildly at this time of year. Be Prepared for every eventuality, often in one day. 3,Be Organised, don’t miss your sowing and pruning windows or you may have to miss out for this year. And with that Happy Days in your Garden x