April Gardening tips

It’s April! If you’ve been cooped up inside all winter, you’ll be longing for the longer days and the easing of lockdown.  

After so long spent alone, and separated, this will be the spring of all springs for gardening. And, if you’ve never gardened before, please let me tempt you to try. You’ll never regret it.  

One great way to get involved could be by joining in with a community garden taking Psalm 23 as its inspiration. Honestly, it’s simple, fun, and will bring us all together again. Easy-to-use resources will be launched on April 23 here. And we’ll be marking the launch with a Q&A Facebook Live with designer Sarah Eberle. So, put the date in your diary, join us and send us your questions

If you already enjoy gardening, you’ll know that April is a busy month with what feels like an endless to-do list, as seeds are sown, seedlings potted on, and ultimately planted outside. It’s the start of the growing season, but you can feel as if you’re already.  

But, gardening is meant to be fun. It is fun. So, let’s take a deep breath, get a cup of tea, and think about a few key things that can be done this month.  

As the soil, and the weather, warm up, seeds can be sown both indoors and out. Last year, when the first lockdown started, it was hard to get hold of either peat-free compost or seeds. So, stock up on both now. Circumstances may be different, but you don’t want to run out. Lots of fun can be had simply thinking about what you’re going to grow.  

If you haven’t got a garden, there’s still lots you can do. Birds are nesting, so keep leaving food and water out for them. You can also create a hanging basket or window boxes specially for the summer.  

If you’ve got a few pots, you could try growing your own summer flowers. Now’s the moment to sow some seeds of half-hardy annuals (that’s pretty flowers to you and me) in pots on a sunny windowsill indoors. Once they’re up and have their first proper leaves, you can put them in bigger pots. They can be planted outside once the last risk of frost has gone.  

It’s such a joy watching something grow from seed and you get so much more for your money. So, even if you’ve never given it a go before, try now. On my list for this summer are cosmos, tithonia, zinnias and nicotiana. If you have a sunny garden, tithonia are well worth a try. Tithonia Red Torch grows to 5ft high and is covered in orange daisy-like flowers, which themselves will be covered in bees in the summer. It’s a late summer joy. 

Again, if you’ve just got pots, why not plant some summer-flowering bulbs? You can still plant gladioli, agapanthus and lilies and get a good show in three months’ time.  

If you’d like to eat a lettuce that was never wrapped in plastic, try sowing some seeds in a pot of peat-free compost on a sunny windowsill now. Once the plants are 3” tall, and all risk of frosts is over, they can be planted either outside, or in bigger pots. Or, you can keep them as cut-and-come again on the windowsill. If you keep sowing lettuce seed every fortnight, you’ll be able to keep yourself in lettuces until the start of December. Isn’t that amazing? 

How about growing your own potatoes? Early varieties can be planted out now. Again, if you don’t have a garden, use a thick black sack with drainage holes or a very large tub. Keep adding soil over the plant as it grows. This shades the potato and stops it from turning green…and therefore poisonous. Now’s the moment to sow other root vegetables from seed: beetroots, parsnips, salsify, radish, carrots, can all go in the ground now.  

And one last tip, sow a few squash or pumpkin seeds indoors now. The plants can go outside next month, and will quickly romp away, so this is only one to do if you have a garden, or an allotment. If you only have space for one plant, a butternut squash will give you a great yield. 

Whatever you do, remember that April is a fickle month. You’ll be wearing a t-shirt one day, a jumper the next and a rain coat the third. Bear this in mind and protect your seedlings and plants, which don’t have t-shirts, jumpers or rain coats. They’ll need your help to get through all that April can and does throw at us. 

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