April is the busiest time of the year so there are lots of “Shoulds” in April.
You should have cleared the last of the Winter debris and now begin sowing and planting in earnest. You should be thinking of planting up Summer bulbs and bedding. You should be putting down the last of your mulch on beds to prevent Spring weeds. You should be thinking of buying in some colourful plants for the late Spring and Summer.
But – you should also, like an enormous bath sponge, be soaking up the beauty of nature, slaking your body’s thirst for fresh green shoots, brighter colours, bluer skies and the merry sound of returning birds.
Back to practical stuff
If your garden is not awash with bright Tulips and the stoical trumpets of Daffodils make a map of your garden and draw in where you would like more colour and height next year. In Autumn, retrieve this piece of wisdom and buy and plant bulbs where you have indicated.
It is the right time to buy Summer flowering bulbs now like Ranunculus, wonderful for cut flowers, Dahlias, Nerines and Gladioli.
If you haven’t sowed vegetables in March now is the time to start.
Also you still have time to dig in some well rotted manure into your veg beds and sprinkle some fertilizer and potash onto the soil and then gently rake it in. Not too much or your little seed may burn when they are first put in.
You can sow lettuce seed either indoors or outdoors, under cover if necessary. Sow spring onions, radishes, salad mixes, rocket, summer purslane and Oriental leaves under cloches or in cold frames.
As well as mixed salad seed combination you can consider rocket, which will last all year and into the next as well as the mustard family of edible greens.
Mustards are easy plants to grow and young leaves sown now will be ready to harvest as a cut-and-come-again salad crop in about four to five weeks’ time.
If you have enough room you can sow a coupe of rows now, and then new rows every two weeks. So by the time May comes you have a continuous drop for the rest of the Summer.
If you have a greenhouse you can start your tomatoes, chiles, aubergines and peppers. This gives them enough time to grow before you consider planting them outdoors.
If you started chitting a batch of first early potatoes at the start of the year, and if the ground is not still frozen, you should be able to plant them now. Dig a shallow drill about 15cm (6in) deep and lay your seed potatoes in it at intervals of 30cm (12in). Make sure the “chits” or shoots are pointing upwards. You can always buy them pre-chitted from your garden centre.
Root and stem vegetables
Carrots and turnips can be sown outdoors. Celery, celeriac, Kohl Rabi, and Florence fennel are not so hardy and if you sow seeds now you should keep them indoors or in a heated greenhouse. Jerusalem artichokes can be planted as corms now and are one of the few vegetables that don’t mind dappled shade though they won’t get as tall. Again, these come back each year so plant in an otherwise unused part of your growing space.
You can turn your attention especially to shady areas as these can get forgotten. Now is the time to appraise these areas. Lots of Spring plants and bulbs burst into action before the bigger trees gain their leaves.
Try Brunnera macrophylla and Pulmonaria Diane Clare for ground cover. Also for dry shade ground cover you could look at any of the Epimediums, Dryopteris wallchiana fern, Anemone nemorosa and Viola cornuta.
The wonderful Spring flowering Clematis macropetala Lagoon is good for a sunny wall or shed and Daphne door can be planted near a back door way for its lovely fragrance.
You can sow all sorts of annuals now, some outdoors, others in your greenhouse or kitchen to annoy your partner. Try the rare and gorgeous Cerinthe, Dill, Nigella Marigolds and Poppies.