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Gardening in the Month of April

April is a wonderful time in the garden. Spring has sprung, with daffodils and other bulbs brightening up the outdoors, while the weather is getting warmer every day, making it the perfect time to crack on with the many outstanding tasks.

General preparation
All beds, whether for flowers or vegetables, need to be weeded, and dug over to aerate the soil, while being careful not to damage those plants that remain in situ. Fading flowers on spring bulbs should be removed along with those on any other winter or spring-flowering plants. Any dead or diseased plants should be removed and burnt along with any other dead matter lying around that may harbour disease. Now is also a good time to apply a general, all-purpose fertilizer to replace the goodness used up last year.

If you’ve been active over the winter period and got on with your indoor sowing, now is the time to start planting out hardy annuals such as sweet peas. If you are a bit behind in this respect, sow your hardy and semi-hardy annual seeds in trays now. If it is particularly mild, you can sow them directly into the garden. It is also the time to plant any summer-flowering bulbs, but be sure to prepare the ground so it drains well and doesn’t become waterlogged.

Herbaceous perennials can be divided to make new plants, rejuvenate the mother plants or just reduce the space they occupy. Where new shoots are showing, cut the old shoots down by at least half, leaving the other half as protection against any late frosts.

Ideally, the vegetable plot will have been prepared earlier, but if not do that now and start sowing your seeds directly into ground. You should also get your potatoes and onion sets planted.

Trees and Shrubs
If the rose bushes weren’t pruned before the winter, now is the time to produce those secateurs, cutting back quite hard to force new growth. Giving them and other shrubs a good organic mulching will help the ground to retain water and keep down weeds. Prune shrubs, where necessary, but leave spring- flowering ones, like Forsythia, until they have finished blooming. Check that any stakes, props or ties are secure around shrubs and trees that require them.

Give lawns a light mowing, straighten the edges and repair any bare patches, hollows or bumps that have appeared. Next, using a lawn rake, scarify the lawn to remove dead moss etc. Finally, aerate the lawn using a garden fork and apply a nitrogen fertilizer. If necessary, also apply a weed and moss killer.

Greenhouses and other structures
All structures should be tested for winter damage and repaired where necessary. Paths should be treated to rid them of moss and algae, while guttering on sheds and greenhouses should be cleared of dead leaves and so forth. 
April can be a difficult month because of the weather, so always keep your eye on the forecast and take suitable action should there be any late frosts.

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Graeme is writing on behalf of Kings Seeds - Seeds & Tomato Seeds

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