Keep your garden looking gorgeous this April
Sow flowers from seed
If your borders have ‘bare patches’, now is a good time to sow hardy annuals outdoors. Good example are love-in-a-mist, sunflowers, calendula, poppy, larkspur, poached egg flowers, lavatera, alyssum, cornflower, night scented stock, and climbers like nasturtium and scented sweet pea. There are lots to choose from and it’s a simple job of sowing them straight into the ground. Make sure the soil is well prepared and weed free and sprinkle them where you wish. The only thing you need to do is make sure they are well-watered and kept weed free. If you’re not sure which are weeds, a good rule of thumb is the weeds are usually the seedlings that are growing quickest!
With the warmer weather and spring rains, now we will almost certainly see an increase the gardener’s chief foes – slugs and snails. They can cause enormous damage to young plants so if you are not gardening organically, the easiest way to protect vulnerable new growth is to spread a few slug pellets around the base of the plants that are likely to be affected. There’s no need to do this for all plants, but the enemy does have its favourites: delphiniums, lupins and scabious make a very tasty meal for a slug!
There are several organic ways of dealing with these little pests. I sink a jar of beer in the ground with the lip just proud of the surface. In the morning I find it filled with an amazing number of drowned snails and have no compunction about disposing of the corpses. It’s life or death in the battle for my delphiniums and every year I get a fantastic display, without the use of chemicals.
Give borders a tidy up
Just set aside a day to go over the borders, doing those small jobs that make all the difference to the garden’s appearance. Lightly fork over the soil, pulling out any weeds. It’s best to do it this time of the year before they get too big and established.
Apply synthetic fertilisers now
If you didn’t give your plants an organic feed last month, a chemical fertiliser will give them an instant boost now, just when they need it. All plants need nutrients to survive, but there’s no need to feed absolutely everything every year. Trees and shrubs, for example, will grow quite happily for years provided the ground is prepared properly when planting. With all these, all that is necessary is to apply some fertiliser in the first two or three years after planting. After that, unless there is some obvious deficiency, they’ll cope well on their own.
The areas of the garden that most need fertilisers every year are the vegetable and fruit patches, annual borders and plants in containers. There are many varieties available in garden centres. Choose a slow release fertiliser and sprinkle over your borders. The rain should take it down into the roots of the plants.