April was warmer than usual and with little rain, but gardens are now looking magnificent.
I hope that yours is looking great too and that you'll find my weekly tips helpful. Check out my more detailed monthly tips later in the week - both for edibles and for ornamentals - for lots more useful tips!
Pots and planted containers
Make sure your container has drainage holes in the bottom and fill it with good quality potting compost. It's tempting to use cheap stuff or even garden soil, but the results will be disappointing.
Add a resin-coated, slow-release fertiliser to the compost as you plant your pots up. Look for 'Osmocote', 'Grow Sure All Purpose 6 months Feed Tablets', or other resin coated feeds. These release feed when your plants need it and should last for the whole summer!
- Plant some containers with perennial plants. These last for several years. Mix plants with dramatic foliage with those with great flowers. Why not mix bedding plants (mostly annuals) with hardy perennial plants and shrubs?
Bedding plants and borders
Plant out annual bedding plants. Prepare the soil well, add some general fertiliser, plant carefully, water them in and watch them grow! There could still be late frosts in some areas so have some fleece/floating mulch ready to cover them. Also, make sure to guard against slug attack! Slug bait based on ferric phosphate is very safe to wildlife.
Fill gaps in between shrubs and other permanent border plants with colourful bedding plants. Cosmos
and direct sown annual flowers are great for this.
Plant out sweet peas
to add height to a border. You'll need to provide something for them to grow up.
or climbing beans on a wigwam in a flower border. Choose a variety such as St George with attractive flowers. That way you get something beautiful and edible! Did you know that in the USA runner beans used to be only sold as flowering plants?
Download the free Candide App to get help and answers from a warm community of gardeners
It is the perfect time to sow new lawns. You'll need to thoroughly prepare the soil as it will be very hard to correct things later. Lawns from seed will save you money, but you'll need to wait for most of the summer before you can use it.
If you're in a hurry, then lay turf. It's more expensive but if all goes well, you'll be enjoying it in a couple of weeks. Don't scrimp on the soil prep and let the soil settle before laying the turf. Make sure that it's well watered until new roots form.
Check broad beans
. Use an insecticide but spray late in the day to minimise risk to bees. Soapy water might work, but you'll need to get good coverage. Merely removing the plant tops where the blackflies congregate sometimes works too.
A little and often works best for some veg so repeat sowings of lettuce
, spring onions
. Sowing into modular trays means that you can maximise your veg patch output. As soon as a crop is cleared, you can pop another in!