April is the month gardeners wait for – this is the month you can really get planting in earnest.
In the vegetable garden, can direct sow broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, endive,fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce and mesclun mixes, onions, parsnips and turnips. Towards the end of the month, direct seed beets and Swiss chard. Continue seeding arugula, corn salad, kale, pac choi, peas, radishes and spinach.
There’s still time to start eggplants, tomatoes and peppers indoors, but don’t start your cucumbers or squash yet – these plants to be transplanted, so you don’t want them to spend too long in starter pots.
Dig over your potato patch and plant seed potatoes. Dig This has a good selection of organic seed potatoes from Pemberton, BC.
Prune early flowering shrubs that have finished flowering such as Forsythia and Viburnum – they’ve flowered a bit later this year. You can cut them back as hard as you like, as they will have all year to grow new stems to flower next year. Prune out any dead, diseased or damaged material first and remove any old wood to encourage fresh, new growth.
Divide early spring flowering bulbs such as snow drops when they are ‘in the green’. Replant immediately and water in. Divide Primroses after they have finished flowering.
Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies, gladiolas and ranunculus into beds, borders and containers, and continue to plant herbaceous perennials. If you forced bulbs such as hyacinths and daffodils indoors they will have now finished flowering, can be planted outdoors in garden borders.
If you haven’t done so already, finish cutting back any dead foliage left on your perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth.
Apply mulch to all your ornamental borders to a depth of 5-6 cm. Use garden compost or leaf mold which will feed the soil, your plants, suppress weeds and help retain moisture levels right through the summer months to give you healthy, robust plants and beautiful flowers and colour.
Regularly clean bird feeders and birdbaths, provide fresh water and food. Birds are busy nest building and raising young and they appreciate the help.
Your grass will need cutting regularly until the autumn now. Keep your mower in good working order, sharpen blades regularly and keep moving parts well lubricated.
Divide overgrown clumps of herbaceous perennials. Cut the tops back to 25 mm-50 mm and lift the whole plant out with a fork. Look for a natural line across the plant and cut it with a sharp knife right through, continue dividing like this until you have enough plants to suit your needs. Replant the pieces in groups of three to five to make an impact in ornamental borders from repeating colour schemes or pot up spares immediately, water well.
Aphids will start to multiply this month. Look for them particularly on honeysuckle and roses, and squish them with your fingers, or spray with insecticidal soap. Predators are still not out and about in great numbers, so you need to keep pest populations under control until the ladybugs and other beneficials arrive.
Slugs and snails will become very active this month. Destroy their egg clusters when noticed. Look for translucent milky spheres, usually laid in nooks and crannies in the soil, and down the sides of pots and containers.
Plant out strawberry beds, making sure you enrich the soil first with plenty of well-rotted manure.
Mulch fruit trees with well rotted manure or garden compost taking care not to mound mulch up around the trunk. Top-dress patio dwarf fruit trees with fresh compost and fertilize.
Fertilize raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees to encourage good crops this season.
Put out Mason Bees cocoons to improve pollination of fruits and vegetables.
If you haven’t already done so, give your greenhouse a thorough scrub with hot soapy water to get rid of pests and diseases and to let more light in.
Feed trees, shrubs and hedges with a balanced organic fertilizer by lightly forking it into the soil surface. Roses are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as they come into growth.