April is an incredibly busy month for gardeners, so it pays to prioritise tasks.
There's masses of sowing and planting to be done, and there's also a need to keep a wary eye out for pests and diseases and take prompt action if trouble looms!
You may be looking for more fruit and veg to grow this year, so here are my tips for what you can be getting on with at home or the allotment.
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- Sow more peas and broad beans, as these really benefit from sowing in succession. Support early sown varieties with pea sticks if you can get them, or with netting if you can't.
Make the first sowing of French beans
towards the end of April. I recommend the variety 'Safari'.
Sow runner beans
in deep pots or 'Rootrainers'. Do this inside. Like French beans, they are very prone to frost damage. Grow a heavy yielding, stringless variety such as 'Butler' or 'Moonlight'.
Sow vegetable varieties that have inherent pest and disease resistance. Check out beetroot Boltardy
(it doesn't run to seed), carrot 'F1 Resistafly' (resists carrot fly), parsnip 'F1 Albion' (less rust and canker), cabbage Kilazol (has club root resistance), onion 'Santero F1' (resistant to downy mildew), and the blight resistant tomato 'F1 Crimson Crush'.
Sow perpetual spinach, leeks, radish, turnips, lettuce, carrots, beetroot, Swiss chard and summer cauliflowers outside.
Buy cell packs of young vegetable plants to plant out. Don't forget that many vegetables can grow in pots, or other containers, just as well as in the veg plot.
Plant maincrop potatoes. Early varieties may already need earthing up to exclude the light from the tubers. If frost is forecast, cover the shoots with fleece to prevent damage.
- Plant outdoor grape vines in well-drained soils with full sun. A pH of around 6.5 -7 is preferred, so get a soil pH kit and check yours.
Plant containers up with some herbs. Avoid planting mint with other herbs as it is invasive and will take over. Coriander
are some of the most popular and look very decorative too! Keep them by the backdoor for easy access.
- There's still time to plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes, but it's getting late, so don't delay!
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In the greenhouse/polytunnel
should be sown in individual pots towards the end of the month. These will need protection if sown outside. Peat pots are perfect for this as they rot down in the soil. Pumpkin and squash need a lot of time to develop, but marrows and pumpkins can be sown in succession.
in pots or in the borders between your tomatoes. It always does better inside or in the hottest and most sheltered spot outside.
Feed citrus plants with high nitrogen liquid feed from now until autumn.
Consider buying or making a cold frame to ease the strain on space in your greenhouse. It is ideal for hardening plants off before planting them outside.
In the fruit garden
- Protect flowers on peaches, nectarines and apricots from frost. Use a soft brush to hand pollinate blooms and increase the chances of a good crop.
Pest and disease watch and remedies
- Check blackcurrants for reversion virus. If affected, bushes will not crop. Infected plants produce redder flowers without hairs, leaves with fewer points on the margins and no fruit on the branches. Dig out and burn infected plants and plant new ones. Hazelnuts can get big bud mites, so keep a wary eye on them also.
Start spraying your vegetable plants regularly with Garlic Wonder. This will keep masses of pests away without tasting garlic. You can make your own garlic spray, but Garlic Wonder is an easy option. It's especially useful for the cabbage family. If you prefer, SB Invigorator is good too and also gives good results without using chemicals.
Try companion planting to keep pests at bay. I find that pot marigolds or single-flowered tagetes planted between tomatoes will keep whitefly away from my plants.
Browse the April Growing Guide to find the best outdoor plants to grow this month!