Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary April 2014

' Rain  on  Good  Friday  and  Easter  day,  a  good  year  for  grass  and  a  bad  for  hay.'

Having  survived  the  long  gloom  of  Lent,  the  gardener  will  be  fitter  through abstention   and  in good shape to  get  on  in  the garden,  as  April  is  a  month  of many  tasks  which   will  brook  no delay.  Growth  is now  so strong  that  it  will  soon be  too  late to  prune  or  transplant  many   plants  without  risk  of  injury. Sown seeds should  be  checked  and  any  that  look  doubtful  should be  re-­ sown  now rather  than  delaying on  the  off-­chance  of  improvement.  There  is  truth  in  the old saying    'One  for  the pigeon and  one  for  the crow,  one to  rot  and  one  to  grow.'

April  is  a  good  month  for  planting  laurels,  conifers,  hollies  and  other  evergreen shrubs  and hedging   plants.  One  may  be fortunate  in  having  a  wife  who  can prune  roses  with  a  look, otherwise  we  must   get  out ourselves  and  tackle  this not disagreeable  task. Climbers  may  have been  tackled  last  month,   the small side branches  off  the  main  stems  cut  back  to  two inches. The  hybrid  tea  roses should  be  cut  back to  four  or five  outward  facing  buds. The  exceptionally clement  weather  in March  saw  new  growth  come through strongly,  such  a contrast  to  last  year, which  should  mean  most  of  the  rose pruning  has been done.  It  will be  worth  feeding  the roses now  and  later on  in  the  summer  to encourage  the  new  displays. There  is  a  lady in  Rushlake Green   who  has the Teutonic  will  and  the  strength  of  character  to  pick  off every last  tarnished leaf, resulting   in the most  enviable  and  disease­free  rose  bushes,  but  for  the  weak and vacillating  type,  (the present  writer  included)  spraying  with a fungicide  at fortnightly  intervals until  June will keep  the   leaves clean  and shiny. Evergreens such  as  laurel,  cupressus,  box  and yew  may  also  be  pruned now. Towards  the end  of  the  month  we  may  plant  dahlias,  fairly  deep to  ensure the new  shoots miss any   late  frosts.    As forsythias  finish  flowering  they  should be pruned, cutting out  the  stems  that  have  just   flowered  and leaving the  young shoots  which  will give  the  best  display  next  year.  Daffodils  and  other early flowering  bulbs  should be  dead-­headed  and  allowed  to die  down  naturally.   Many of  us  resent  these untidy obstacles  to  their lawn mowers  but  the  bulbs  must be given  time  to   build up  reserves  for  next  spring.

In  the  all  important  vegetable  garden  the  first  great  event  is  the  planting  of  the first  early potatoes.   According  to  moon-­planting  lore,  potatoes  should  be  planted between  the  first  night of  a  waning   gibbous and  the  new  moon.  The  March  full moon  falls  on  the  16th  so  we  may take  this  as  our  start   time  for planting earlies.  Maincrops  may  commence  after  the  April full moon  on  the  15th.  If  we spy   any  of  the more  notorious  tabloids  about  the  house  they  may be  profitably used  to  line  the potato   trenches, assuming we  are  not  worried  about  our  young and  impressionable  potatoes  imbibing   calumnies  and  tales of prurient goings-on. This  material will  expand  and  hold  water,  saving  us  work   later  on.    We  may continue  sowing  lettuce,  peas and  radishes  as  well  as  Brussels  sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower,  broccoli, broad  beans  and  kale.   Parsnips  sown  last  month  may be thinned,  this  is  very   important  as overcrowding in  the nursery  will  lead to  thin straggly  specimens  which  will  never  recover their  figures.    In  the event  of a frosty  spell,  that  bale of  straw  we  have  been  carrying  about  this  last   month may now  be used  to spread  around  any  new potatoes  that  are  showing.    Main  crop carrots   should be  sown  towards  the  end of  the month.    Leeks  and onions  can still  be  sown  but  without delay. Trenches  for  runner  beans  may  now be  dug.  For a  bumper crop we  may  dig  in  a  foot and  a  half  of   compost  or  horse  stuff, which  will  settle down  in  time  for  sowing  or planting out  later on  in  May.   Though  runner  beans  are  a  relatively  easy crop,  they  do  give  what  they get. So as  the  sun  strengthens  and  the ground  tarnishes  we  must  keep that  hoe going in the beds  and   borders, this  frequent  airing  and  stirring  of  the  soil  really is  a great aid  to growth and  general  well-being  in  the garden.

Content kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 or 01435 812 153 or visit www.greenandgreatgardens.co.uk