‘The days are beginning to get longer, but April can be a deceptive month. The weather may turn in the space of an hour from hopeful spring sunshine to cold, vicious winds and pouring rain.’ (David Mabey)
‘From the gardener’s point of view, the typical April showers are welcome because they provide the ideal treatment for young plants whose roots are still shallow and which need frequent refreshment with small amounts of rain.’ (Frances Perry)
Whatever traditional gardening writers say about the April weather, provided that you sow your vegetable seeds into weed-free raised beds, on to which you have spread good organic compost made from previous years’ rotted-down weeds and grass cuttings, and cover the seeds immediately with a thin but effective blanket of horticultural fleece, you will not encounter any of the problems that traditional gardeners complain of.
Another tip is: never be impatient to get seeds into the soil, as seeds sown later will always catch up with those sown earlier in the year, due to the greater warmth and more importantly, the increased number of daylight hours. And of course, while traditional gardeners are busy complaining of the wet, waterlogged soil that they have to walk on in their vegetable gardens or allotments, you can go out between showers, and sow your seeds whilst walking and standing on the narrow paths between the beds that are covered with a handy and convenient mulch of straw or barkchips!
From this month, carrots, turnips, and beetroot can be sown directly into beds and covered with fleece. Spread the seed in drills (rows) thinly, to save work later in thinning them out, as these root plants do not like to be transplanted.
If not already sown in March, sow broad beans now and cover them with fleece. Peas can also be sown outside towards the end of the month, whilst French beans and runner beans can be started off in pots in the greenhouse for planting out later in May or June.
Spinach, kohl-rabi, sprouting broccoli, and cauliflower can all be sown in the brassica bed this month. Be sure to cover the beds with fleece to warm up the soil and protect emerging seedlings from pests.
Radish, lettuce and rocket seeds can be sown directly into the salad bed and covered with fleece. Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, celery and celeriac can be started off in pots in the greenhouse from early to mid-April, and sweet corn, courgettes, marrows and pumpkins later in the month.
Traditional cautions about protecting potatoes from wet, cold, damp, frost and slugs are all overcome by the the use of fleece lain over the potato bed from the beginning. First and second earlies can be planted into beds or potato growing bags during this month if you have not already done so.
Copyright (c) 2013 Torbay Organic Gardening Society, 25 Church Road, St Marychurch, Torquay TQ1 4QY
Tel 01803 328055 Leaflet No: CAL4