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April 2010 – Sue McDougall

The seasons are changing and with a hint of rain on the horizon, there is no better time to spend in the garden.  With most of us lucky enough to have a few extra days off through April there is no excuse. There’s time to catch up with family and friends as well as finishing a few jobs outdoors.

April is a great time to start a few of the major projects that have been in the planning stage for a while. If your place is anything like mine, I have many projects planned but will only get to complete a couple!  You do have to dream…….

Jobs to do

It is time to start selecting and preparing for the spring flowering bulbs. Choose large firm bulbs.  The larger bulbs of the same variety are the most mature and will give the best flowers in the spring. Tulips, hyacinths and some of the cold climate varieties of daffodils will benefit from time in the fridge which replicates the cold winters these bulbs experience in their natural environment and so initiate the flower. After 6 to 8 weeks they can be planted out in pots or in garden beds. Feed regularly with bulb food or a complete fertiliser for flowering plants. Then all you have to do is wait for the spectacular flowers to appear in the spring.

The hot summer days have taken their toll on impatiens and fuchsias in the shady areas and on the patio. Give them a hard prune back and as they bush up nip the small growing tips to encourage even more bushy growth. Feed regularly with Powerfeed at this time of the year.

As it cools down and the basil is going to seed, it is time to plant coriander. Many people have problems growing coriander as it bolts to seed very quickly in the warm weather. Plant into a rich, well improved soil and feed with high nitrogen fertilisers to encourage lush leaf growth which is, after all, the part of the plant needed for cooking.

Apply a tablespoon of Sulphate of Potash around roses. This can be applied dry and watered in or alternatively, dissolve in a watering can and apply as a liquid solution. Potassium is the nutrient that will intensify the perfume and colour of the flowers. It will also thicken the cell walls of the plant, building up their resistance to diseases such as black spot and mildew.

It’s time to split up the cliveas. These plants are an ideal choice for dry shady gardens. Get to them with the pruning saw as nearly nothing will kill them. Split up into individual portions being sure there are still some roots on each piece. Plant in the driest, shadiest part of the garden, these are almost guaranteed to grow.

April is the month for planting. Grevilleas and all other Australian plants will establish themselves very quickly at this time of the year. Getting them in before the bulk of the rains start falling will give them a great start to becoming self sufficient in summer.

Plant Now

Vegetables to plant or sow include beetroot, broccoli, broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese broccoli, Chinese cabbage, English spinach, leeks, lettuce, onions, parsnips, peas, potato, rhubarb crowns, shallots, snow peas, tree onions, Silverbeet and turnip.

The first potato crop can be planted any time from now on. Potatoes are very easy to grow. They are a perfect crop for children to grow. I have fond memories of how excited I got as a child, discovering fresh new potatoes in the newly turned over soil. Potatoes are swollen stems and the stems need to be buried for them to crop successfully. As they grow up they can be buried with straw or soil, it really doesn’t matter. The only other thing they require is the application of additional potassium to develop the tubers.

At the same time plant some parsley. Parsley is a great herb for flavouring home grown potatoes and hearty winter stews. It requires deep fertile soil and tends to go to seed after a long dry period.

Garlic is another crop to plant at this time of the year. Planting in autumn will allow good leaf growth before the cold winter weather sets in and then it will develop the bulbs in spring before it is harvested in November.


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