In The Garden

Written By: The Lowdown - Apr• 30•13

logo In The Garden 2Enjoy April. The lush greenery we have seen in the rains will soon fade and we will rely on our hosepipes and boreholes again, our booster pumps and storage tanks. Winter has its own charm and of course it is the season for bedding plants, for peas and beans, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and tomatoes. It is worth growing your own organic vegetables because of the taste – nothing like it.


Take a look around your garden and check what has become overgrown in the rains. Large shrubs may be hiding smaller plants under the new growth. You can either prune branches out of the shrub or move the small plants. Other plants will need to be lifted and divided before re-planting in rich new compost. Dig compost into every bed in the vegetable garden and add dry manure and/or comfrey leaves. Rake the earth well removing any stones or old roots, then sow those carrots, beetroot, leeks and radish. Other seeds can go into a seedbed and be transplanted when there are several new leaves, in order to space them properly. Carrot seeds are very fine and when they germinate you will need to thin them out. Don’t hesitate to remove perfectly good tiny seedlings in order to give the others room to grow. They should be at least 5 cm apart. Don’t forget crop rotation, a basic principle of good gardening: do not plant the same crop as last year in the same place. It’s really important to safeguard against nematodes and diseases and to make use of the nitrogen-fixing properties of peas and beans by following them with broccoli or cauliflower or cabbage.


Try a new crop. Strawberries are easy to grow. Buy new plants and plant in well dug compost-enriched soil. Cover the soil with mulch and encircle each plant with a ring of straw – long dried grass that will hold the berries off the soil. The main problem is slugs that emerge at night and feast on your berries before you get a chance to enjoy them. Lots of crunched eggshells round each plant help to deter them.


Try new flowers as well. If you like petunias, change to a different colour. But think of snapdragons (antirrhinums), delphiniums (that gorgeous blue!), pansies, lots of lobelia, delicate scabious and nasturtiums. Plant gladioli if you find the corms. They are a wonderful sight. I wish the seed suppliers would give us more variety but you can buy seeds on the internet. Try Thompson and Morgan in UK for lots of information even if you don’t order seeds. There is even a video on How To Plant Strawberries.


This is a good time to check all your tools and equipment. Look at the blades on the lawnmower in case they need to be sharpened or replaced. Change the filters on a petrol mower. Secateurs do not last for ever so replace them if they are blunt or worn out. Hosepipes, sprinklers and connectors need to be in good order for the dry season.


Your challenge for the dry season: make a fabulous hanging basket planted with colourful flowers.

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