Home Made, Home Grown, Home Crafted

Gardener's Diary: April

Posted by Verity Mihai on Sunday, March 26, 2017 Under: Gardening
As I write at the end of March it is definitely not going out like a lamb!  

Today has been cold and there have been high winds and heavy downpours of rain. 

Frosts have been forecast and this serves as a warning to those of us gardeners who have been tempted to start sowing and planting out too early. The odd day of beautiful sunshine, the welcome appearance of spring flowers and blossom as well as the unwelcome appearance of weeds can trap the unwary.  

The last average frost date for our area is in late April; frost tender flowers and veg planted out before this time are at risk

Keen Gardeners can get ahead and prepare for warmer days.  

Flower borders can be weeded, any old perennials cut down, empty ground forked over and compost applied if you are emptying your bins. You can also start to plan what you may like to plant this summer. Hardy plants like garden pinks, sweet peas, shrubs and perennials can be planted out. Vegetable beds can be prepared for planting. Any crops left from the winter can be harvested, with the space they occupied dug over, and the plot, and the shed, generally tidied up and prepared for action.

On the vegetable patch there are many edibles that can go in the ground once it starts to warm. The traditional method of testing was to place a bare bottom on the soil to see if it felt cold, but I think I will stick to digging a hand in! Onion sets, broad beans and early peas, first early potatoes, radishes, salad and spinach can all be started from mid-March and later on carrots, parsnips and beetroot are good to go. Spinach and salad crops grow quickly as well.

In the greenhouse, even if it is unheated, or on the kitchen windowsill, seeds are shooting up and chillies, tomatoes, sweetcorn, salad, celery and a host of other vegetable plants are jostling for space alongside the tender flowers.

This time of year is known as the Hungry Gap. Root crops are running out, kale and cabbage are finished and spring sown stuff is yet to produce. Rhubarb, Spring greens and Purple sprouting broccoli save the day; the first salads coming from under cloches, and overwintered bunching onions added to meals together with the first tasty herbs of spring like parsley and chives give a bit of variety and promise of plenty to come.

So now the clocks have changed, the days are longer and hopefully the sun is shining there is little excuse to stay indoors – try growing something this summer!

In : Gardening