Today is the 1st of April… and here in the Netherlands it is a glorious day with plenty of warm sunshine. March was the warmest month ever recorded as we had a magical spell of high temperatures of 20C for a good week. This of course being a totally unexpected treat for us all…. We even had our first BBQ outside… heaven…. Such a summer feeling…. Unfortunately it will not keep of course… and in a way a good thing too otherwise farmers would start to grumble and crops would either need harvesting too early or get confused and not produce because of drought….
So let’s wish for plenty of sunshine during the day and enough rain during the nights to keep our plants and landscape happy….
Now is the perfect time to get out into the garden and get it completely ready so the beauty can explode and new life can thrill you once again… Spring is the period of new beginnings anyway… also a good time to make changes in your own personal life too….
So get digging and dirty and make contact with the earth… good time to get the mind still and figure out the next path you want to take in your own life…. And most important of all… HAVE FUN!!!!!
Here are my to do’s for April:
● Check for emerging
self-seeded plants and transplant or pot up before weeding and mulching
● Place saucers under container plants to conserve moisture.
● Dead-heading naturalised bulbs will keep them vigorous and healthy.
● Prick out and pot on seedlings before they become overcrowded,
● Remove side shoots and pinch out tendrils on cordon sweet peas.
● Divide sprouted dahlia tubers; pot up individual tubers with strong shoots
● Repot container plants that are pot bound, gently loosening rootballs before
moving to larger containers.
● Lift and divide overgrown waterlilies, replanting divided plants in aquatic
compost topped with washed gravel in a planting basket.
● Once the soil has warmed up, weed borders and apply a moisture-retaining
● Use fleece to protect young growth from frost.
● Stake tall-growing perennials.
● Shorten the straggly shoots on camellias after flowering.
● Rake moss from the lawn with a spring-time rake towards the end of the month.
● Divide pot-grown agapanthus. Though they do like to be crowded, this is
necessary from time to time. Remove from pot and use a spade to chop into two
or four pieces and plant in fresh compost.
Pests and diseases
● Put brassica collars around cabbages and cauliflowers to deter cabbage root fly
and erect low screens around carrots to keep carrot fly at bay.
● The first lily beetles will be appearing around now in affected areas. Pick
off the bright red beetles and squash them.
● Start slug and snail patrol.
● Apply a first dose of anti-slug nematodes (available from www.greengardener.co.uk) once soil warms up sufficiently
In the greenhouse
● Ventilate greenhouses in good weather to prevent a build-up of pests and
● Move young plants from greenhouse to cold frame.
● Feed, water and ventilate plants in greenhouses and cold frames.
● Introduce biological controls in the greenhouse.
Fruit and veg
● Sow a small row of salads every two weeks.
● Sow carrots and parsnips outdoors for autumn cropping but remember to protect
both from carrot fly.
● Sow main-crop peas, winter brassicas and beetroot.
● Pot on outdoor tomato plants and plant tomatoes in the greenhouse border.
● Use a spade to cut away the offshoots from globe artichokes and plant them in
● Prune plum trees.
● Check for emerging self-seeded plants and transplant or pot up before weeding
and mulching borders.
● Cut back sage growth by half to keep it shapely. If it has become leggy,
prune hard to within 15cm of the ground.
● Prepare runner-bean beds.
● Remove flower buds on rhubarb plants.
General tips and to do’s:
● Dig flower beds to prepare
● Mulch flower beds with a 4-5cm layer of compost to suppress weeds
● Lift and divide snowdrops
● Plant tubers and seedlings, such as dahlias and sweet peas
● Sow easy seeds now and you’ll reap rich rewards later in the year. Get going
with quick-growing flowering plants such as the endlessly gorgeous cosmos
family. Favourites are:
❀ Pure white ‘Purity’
❀ Pink and carmine centred ‘Versailles Tetra’
❀ Pure carmine ‘Dazzler’
I also recommend adding one or two sunflowers:
❀ Deep wine red Helianthus ‘Chianti’
❀ Creamy-yellow H. debilis ‘Vanilla Ice’
● Prune buddleja bushes to about 30cm to 50cm from the ground.
● Plant out early and maincrop potatoes.
● Sow veg like courgette, marrows, tomato and sweetcorn indoors.
● Plant trees, shrubs and climbers before the weather warms up.
● Deadhead daffodils as soon as the flowers fade, so they don’t waste their
energy producing seeds.
● Start trimming your box hedges and topiaries now, or wait another three to
four weeks in colder areas.
● Thin out old clumps of bamboo to allow this year’s shoots lots of space.
● Sow runner, broad and French beans, beetroots, carrots, cabbages, salad
onions, spinach, herbs and Brussels sprouts outside.
● Sow hardy annuals, such as calendula and nasturtium, in shallow drills
● For summer evening fragrance, sow night-scented stocks (Matthiola longipetala
and M. bicornis).
● Repot over-wintered geraniums, pelargoniums and fuchsias into fresh compost
and feed them every three weeks. Place outside when danger of frost has passed.
● Now’s your last chance to plant your summer-flowering bulbs and rhizomes.
These include hedychium, gladioli, nerines, eucomis and dahlias, lilies and
● Give shrubs and roses a feed of slow-release fertiliser (fish, blood and
● Start giving houseplants more water.
● Feed citrus plants with a high-nitrogen feed.
● Sow new lawns, repair bald patches and damaged edges.
● Give your lawn its first cut.
● Continue to deadhead spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and apply a
● Replenish the top couple of inches of compost and mulch on container plants,
and give them a good liquid feed.
● Sow salad, broad beans and peas directly into the soil.
● Keep on top of weeds.
Happy Gardening, Love C