Assailed by a never ending list of things todo I keep a master list for garden tasks in the kitchen, mostly scribbled on my latest Gardener’s World calendar but some months it stretches to include post it notes stuck one on top of another. With the arrival of each new magazine ( I get 4 or is it 5 mags a month?!) or garden program (GQT, Beechgrove Garden and of course Friday nights with Monty and GW) I add to it, which to be honest makes it frightful and frightening at some stages of the year!
That might seem terribly disorganised and I will admit to having it electronically as well – spreadsheet by plant by month – so it can be sorted and juggled and pondered over if there is time, which is rarely!
Mostly I have it down to what MUST be done that month as a priority and what should be done but could wait a bit, follows that. It helps to not miss vital pruning or planting stages and that way there is no arguing with myself about the necessity of completing certain tasks.
So April’s MUST do’s – not an exhaustive list by any means and anyone wishing to add to task or ask a question please feel free to comment!
MULCH MULCH MULCH
What can I say, there is so much about our current drought that I probably don’t need to say this but just in case you missed …….Apply a 10-15cm layer of mulch (soaking wet news paper or cardboard under bark chip or homemade compost is good) to reduce evaporation and lock in as much moisture as you can.
Alternatively hoe the top 5cm of soil to a fine dusty tilth. It acts like a mulch though if your site is exposed and windy it’s probably best to stick with adding a mulch!
Formative prunes after flowering (that’s 1/3rd of old wood to the ground and upto 30% off remaining branches) – Viburnum bodnantense etc, Lonicera purpursii, Forsythia, Chaenomeles
Formative prunes before flowering (that’s 1/3rd of old wood to the ground and upto 30% off remaining branches) – Buddleija
Grasses – cut back deciduous varieties to 10-15cm above ground level – already a bit late for this if they are off to a green and glorious start.
FRUIT, VEGGIES AND CUT FLOWERS:
Plant those spuds! I’ll be trialing a new (to me) method of planting on top of the ground and mulching over them this year. NO DIG rocks!!!
Dig out trenches for beans and peas and apply a well rotted compost. Beans are GREEDY feeders. Plants will go in in 4-6 weeks
Dig in green manures, a bit late for this too but not too late quite yet. Cut the leafage down and chop up with a spade/rotavator and then dig the sod over and into the soil. In theory it needs 4-6 weeks to break down, though mine did it’s stuff in 3, good wormage levels I think. I am planting sweetcorn, pumpkin and and courgettes (2 of the 3 Sisters) into mine in mid May.
Chop back old wood of Autumn fruiting raspberries to 10cm above ground if not done in winter.
Get any Dhalia tubers into slightly damp compost, only half cover the tuber, in a frost free area to give them an early start before planting out.
Keep liquid feeding your bulbs as they grow, preparing them for bulking up before next year.
Planting annual flower seeds into modules or seed trays and keep them in an unheated greenhouse until the frosts pass (Mid May/June). This year I’m doing Ammi, Sunflowers, Phlox and Stocks and Cosmos. They’ll sit alongside Tomato, Pak Choi, Cavalo Nero, Peas and French and Runner Bean seedlings.
For seasonal inspiration and ideas on extending your own gardens seasons visit at least one amazing Spring Garden. Try Great Dixter, Beth Chatto’s, RHS Hyde Hall or for something more local to you have a rummage through this Telegraph list, an oldie but still a goodie!