The cutting garden
- Sow annual flower varieties directly into the spot where you want them to grow. Make certain that you have prepared a good, fine seedbed. Try Cosmos, Antirrhinum, honeywort (Cerinthe major purpurascens), Verbena bonariensis, Calendula and annual dahlias. However, you might find it better to buy plants of Antirrhinum as it is a little late for them.
- Plant out sweet peas. Make sure that you have hardened them off well so that they establish without a check to growth. You can still sow them directly where you want them to grow.
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- If you have bought them online, unpack plug plants as soon as they arrive. Make certain that they are well watered and are in good light. These plants will wait a very short while before they need to be transplanted into something bigger. Modular trays work very well.
- Sow sunflowers into small pots and then transplant them, or directly sow where you want them to grow. Take note of how tall they get, as most will need to be at the back of the border!
- When planting out young seedlings remember to scatter slug pellets thinly around them. Those pellets based on ferric phosphate are effective and also very safe to wildlife (I've used them for almost 15 years and can vouch for their effectiveness and safety).
Gardening for wildlife
- Sow a mixture of annual plants directly into well-cultivated soil. These will encourage bees, insects, butterflies and moths to visit your garden. Sow in full sun if possible.
- If your garden is surrounded by fencing flush with the ground, cut a small hole to let hedgehogs in and out.
- If you're a cat owner, be aware that it is natural for them to hunt birds. This month there will be the first of many fledgelings that are easy prey for cats. Put a collar with a bell on your pet, as this gives the birds a warning of an attack or keep them inside for a while.
- Try to avoid using chemicals. However, some chemicals, in my experience, are very effective and benign to wildlife. I'd recommend using Organic Garlic and S B Invigorator sprays for insect pest control. Vitax Organic 2 in 1 Plant Invigorator spray contains fish oil that should control most diseases and common pests.
Home grown food
- April is a good time to plant outdoor grapevines. Plant in well-drained soils in full sun. A pH of around 6.5 -7 is preferred but not essential. Why not plant one on a sunny wall or pergola?
- When sowing vegetables, sow those that have inherent pest and disease resistance! Their flavour will be just as good. I grow beetroot 'Boltardy' because it doesn’t run up to seed, carrot 'F1 Resistafly' or 'Flyaway' because they are less attractive to carrot fly, parsnip 'F1 Albion' as it's resistant to rust and canker, cabbage 'Kilazol' because of clubroot resistance, onion 'Santero F1' for its downy mildew resistance, and blight resistant tomato 'F1 Crimson Crush'.