Now we are getting our gardens Set for Spring, let's hope the cold, dreary Irish winter is behind us and it's time to get out in the garden and prepare for a new growing season. Here are some of our Gardening Tips for April to help prepare your garden this Spring.
Harden seeds before planting
If you are growing summer vegetables from seed, remember they need to be hardened off before planting them in your garden. Gently harden them off by introducing the plants gradually to outdoor weather and sunlight. Leave them outside on mild days for short periods of time and increase the exposure daily until plants can be left out all day and night. Watch out for signs of stress.
Cut back flowering shrubs
Cut back spring-flowering shrubs after they have bloomed, then give them a dose of fertilizer. If Azaleas or Camellias are looking a little yellow between the veins, apply some organic feed. Trim dead flowers from spring bulbs but leave the foliage to provide the energy for the bulb next spring.
Weed as you go
It's time to start weeding. When your plants are just starting to grow, fully developed weeds can choke your budding plants and kill them, so make sure you pull out as many weeds as you can - roots and all. Perennial weeds such a bindweed, couch grass and ground elder should be dealt with sooner rather than later, as they will take over the whole garden if you leave them to it.
Later in the month - if you already have your hardy annual seedlings ready to go, it's time to transplant them from their home indoors to their new home in the garden, providing there is no risk of hard frost. Before they're placed into the ground, they need to be hardened off. When you transplant your seedlings, try to do it during the afternoon of a cool and cloudy day. Seedlings will often struggle while making the transition from a climate-controlled windowsill or greenhouse to the outside, where the climate won't be as consistent, so if your plants seem to droop and lose a bit of their strength, continue to water, and care for them - they'll regain their strength and continue to grow.
Dead head where needed
Continue to dead-head Violas and Pansies in containers, they will flower profusely from now until the end of May. Avoid planting summer bedding plants too early, although many plants such as Bacopa, Petunias and Fuchsias are available to buy in many garden centres; they will still need protection from frost and April showers. If you cannot resist the temptation and you have a greenhouse, they can be kept in a protected environment until they are ready to plant in mid-May, when all danger of frost has passed.
Stake to avoid damage
Plants that will grow tall this spring and summer need staking to prevent them being damaged or blown down by windy weather. Most of us aren't thinking about supporting a plant that is only a few inches high, and our window of opportunity can easily pass. Peonies will be putting on a growth spurt and coming into leaf, so use sturdy metal circular plant supports to hold the weight of a heavy bloom, and you will be rewarded with a fantastic show of blowsy Peonies come May.
Sow a wildflower meadow
If you have a sunny patch of bare ground in your garden, sow a wildflower meadow. Seed mixes are readily available, and it is the perfect way to introduce beneficial insects into the garden.
Tomatoes which have been grown from seed can now be potted on into a larger container. Sticks or small bamboo canes can be used for support at this stage. They can be potted into their final growing spot or container in mid-May. Pinch out the tips of any leggy growth and ensure that watering is consistent, and airflow is free around the young plants.