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April’s Jobs on the Plot

03rd April 2019

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This month is filled with longer days, complete with rays of spring sunshine, as well as the occasional April shower. Take joy in sowing seeds, as it is a bumper time for gardeners when varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, beetroot, cucumber, cauliflower, carrots, radishes and more can be sown! It is however important to remember that frost can still occur this month, so be wary and don’t plant all your crops outside unprotected.

• Think what species you want to grow in pots. Choose specimens that can be grown individually and will produce abundant yields, such as tomatoes and peppers
• Sow seeds in containers in warm areas, putting them at the appropriate depth and distance between each other – check the seed packets for advice on this
• Once the chance of frost has passed place container crops that have been overwintering under cover outside again in a sunny area
• Try growing produce in hanging baskets. There are tomato varieties, such as ‘Tumbler’, which have a growth habit suited to developing in these types of containers

• If you haven’t already decided, choose fruit specimens you would like to grow this year. Container-grown fruit trees and bushes can be planted in the garden this month, too
• Enjoy the blossom on trees, such as pears, plums, apples and cherries. Keep an eye on the weather report and if frosts are forecast then use fleece to protect the flowers
• Prepare beds for strawberries by using well-rotted manure on the soil to increase nutrient content. Plant specimens in the patch and use cloches to help encourage earlier yields
• Shelter peach trees with plastic sheeting to prevent rain hitting the tree, as this helps protect it against peach leaf curl disease, which can also affect almond, nectarine and apricot trees
• Attempt to increase soft fruit tree yields this year – you can use a paint brush, with soft bristles, to hand pollinate nectarine and peach trees in April

• Plant potatoes on the plot – second earlies can be put in the ground until the middle of the month, and maincrops from mid-April to the end
• Seeds can be sown outside – try varieties of carrots, spinach, peas, radishes, lettuce, beetroot, leeks, Swiss chard and more!
• Broad beans planted in February under cover in containers can be transplanted outside. It is good practice to avoid planting seeds directly into the ground in rich clay soils as they are more likely to rot
• Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers 10-15cm deep in the ground this month to make the most of this root veg, which will be available to harvest from November to January
• Specimens which are growing on the veg patch may need support as plants develop and yields grow – try using a stake to support the plants
• Take the last opportunity to plant asparagus crowns this month. Choose a sunny, open spot and plant crowns in a trench (20cm deep and 30cm wide), which has had manure mixed into the bottom, along with a 5cm covering of soil over the top

• A variety of seeds can be sown under cover now – try courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, marrows, salads and more!
• Care for your crops – the warmer weather and lighter conditions means some early sown crops, such as toms, should already be prospering
• Provide ventilation in greenhouses by opening vents and doors, and in cold frames or polytunnels prop open the front to allow air circulation
• As seedlings develop, they can be potted up once they have true leaves – remember not to hold the stem during transplanting
• Label trays and pots so that you know what the crops are – it is easy to get confused with so many seedlings!
• Keep checking plants growing under cover for pests and diseases. It is important to be vigilant to stop them spreading quickly in these enclosed under cover structures

Sow dill directly into the spot where you want the specimen to grow (whether in a pot or the veg patch) as it does not like having its roots disturbed. Choose a well-drained sunny spot for parsley and sow them in trenches which are 1cm in depth, before covering with soil. This month is the last opportunity to sow thyme – simply plant a few seeds in compost filled pots.

April is the month to make more sowings of various crops if you have the space. Use seed trays and good quality compost for starting seeds off under cover. You can also sow them outside, although be wary of unexpected frosts as these can still occur. Make sure you sow the seeds at the appropriate depth and space them at the correct distance, so that they do not have to compete for resources and are able to grow to their full potential and
produce delicious yields.

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