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April 2011 – Sue McDougall

April is the best month to get into the garden.  Whether your interest lies in growing vegies or flowers, there is something to do for everyone. Gardening at this time of the year makes sense.  Rain is on the horizon and the soil is still warm. Plants have a good chance of becoming established before the heat of next summer sets in and with Easter being late this year there is no better time to put on the gardening gloves and head outside.

Jobs to Do

It’s time to revamp the herb garden as many different varieties have suffered over the heat of summer. Re-improve the soil and plant parsley, coriander, oregano and marjoram.

Bulbs that have been in the fridge for at least six weeks can be planted out now. They have been tricked into thinking they are in a cool climate and are ready to start growing as soon as they hit some good soil. The addition of bulb fertiliser in the soil or potting mix will deliver all the nutrients that these plants need for flowering.

For hardy spring colour the traditional Pink and White Everlasting is brilliant. These fast growing annuals are perfect for verge plantings and are usually planted at the first sign of the winter rains. Prepare the area with a small amount of soil improver and blood and bone. Spread the seed over the area and rake lightly. Remember to be on snail watch as the small seedlings are a favourite with hungry snails.

Hibiscus look stunning in autumn. The large brightly coloured flowers look brilliant against the dark green foliage. It’s the time to select some new varieties for the garden. Hibiscus are perfect for creating a tropical oasis feel to the garden yet at the same time ensuring it’s a Waterwise Garden.

The harvest is plentiful at the moment, the last of the warm season vegetables are fruiting. The late planted crops have nearly finished bearing and now is the time to store some of the harvest for the winter. If you have plenty of pumpkins spare a few and make pumpkin chutney.  It is gorgeous and will make great gifts throughout the year.

Time to plant the broad beans. The earlier you can get the crop in the better as they will grow before the cold weather sets in. Don’t overfeed as the plants can become very brittle in the winter storms.

There is nothing like the sweet taste of home grown peas. My crop never makes it to the table; the children eat every single one as it is picked. Peas are so easy to grow in any part of the garden in the winter and they have the added bonus of improving the fertility of the soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, making it available for other crops. When the plants have finished cropping lay them flat and they make a fabulous mulch to save water.

As the potato crop is shooting keep covering over with straw or soil, depending upon how they are planted. The end result is a mounded garden bed. Potatoes are actually swollen tubers from the stem, so it makes sense to mound them up as high as possible.

Potatoes can be planted until October so there is no excuse not to have freshly dug ‘spuds’ for dinner. I can taste them now with a little butter or extra virgin olive oil and parsley!

It’s olive picking month. With the number of olive trees sold in the last few years to home gardeners there should be a huge number around to harvest. Search out an old favourite recipe. They are very easy to prepare and it just takes a little time. Soon your olives will be sought after by family and friends and the invitations will read, “Only if you bring some olives!”

In warmer areas of Australia there is still time to plant sweet peas. Traditionally St Patrick’s Day was the time they needed to be planted, but there is still plenty of time and as long as they are in by Anzac day you will have a fantastic show in the spring.

If planting seedlings you can plant even later. Sweet peas require a full sun position and when flowering the more flowers you pick the better they flower.

 

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