Guest post by Erin aka @hortihunny
The old saying goes ‘April showers bring May flowers’ but if you’re anything like me, you’ve been too scared to plant your flowers in case of a cold snap (like the one we got this week!) In Scotland, it’s not unusual to have four seasons in one day so keep an eye on the forecast this month as you plant your garden for delicious crops and pretty flowers in the summer months and beyond. Here’s some jobs you can do if the weather allows, read on for our top tips for Scottish Gardens in April.
- Plant early and second early potatoes
The seed potatoes you’ve been chitting indoors should be ready to plant out. Whether you’re a traditional ‘trencher’ or prefer a deep container, now is the time to get them planted. If sowing in beds/straight into the ground, try to do it during a dry spell – tatties aren’t fond of wet soil. Space them about 20-25cm apart and add some well rotted manure to give them a boost. For successional potatoes from may, plant your second earlies a couple of weeks after your first earlies.
- Sow Indoors
Remember the pumpkin seeds we saved when we carved them in October? It’s now time to plant them under cover. You can also sow:
- Sow Outdoors
Watch the weather forecast for cold snaps, especially overnight. If you think you should hold off a few days, do! To protect any seeds sown outdoors, cover them with fleece/recycled polythene (old compost bags will do). Watch out for hungry mice too, they particularly like peas! Veg you can sow directly:
- Swiss chard
- Kohl rabi
- Onion and Shallots
- Sweet Peas
Sweet peas are one of the biggest dividers in gardening – some people love to sow them in the autumn and others like to do them in early spring. If you’ve haven’t done yours yet, you’re not too late! Get them done in April. Sweet peas like long roots so toilet roll tubes are ideal for sowing them into. You can also plant these directly in the ground as they decompose. Remember to ‘pinch out’ the growing tip regularly to give you bushier plants and therefore more lovely flowers! You can also plant other hardy/half hardy annual flowers under cover.
- Bed, Border, and Container Care
As your spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils start to pass their best, cut the dead flower heads off but leave all the foliage to go brown. Some people think that this doesn’t look very pretty but it is the bulb’s way of recharging. The energy from the browning leaves and stems goes back into the bulb where it is stored until next spring. You should wait at least 6 weeks before cutting back or mowing over the area to let the bulbs do their thing!
Bedding plants such as pansies and violas are available in many shops and can be a great way to add colour to your beds and containers quickly and inexpensively. Kelpie compost is great for giving them the nutrients they need to bloom! Deadhead them regularly to encourage more flowers.
- To mow or not to mow?
For many, April is often the month of ‘the first mow of the year’ as the grass is growing and people love a well kept lawn. For the past couple of years, I’ve tried to hold off and do a ‘no mow’ until late summer so that pollinators and insects can benefit from the clovers and longer grasses. This is a simple way to encourage rewilding on a small scale and also frees up a bit of time and effort to focus on other areas in the garden! I appreciate some people don’t like the ‘wild’ look so whether you mow or not, it’s a good time for the following lawn care jobs:
- Sow lawn seed on patchy areas and keep the soil moist while it germinates (and try to keep the pigeons away!)
- Scarify/hand weed to remove moss and weeds
- Brush away any worm casts on dry days
- Aerate compacted areas of lawn, by spiking it with a garden fork
- Rake in some Caledonian Horticulture Top Dressing