Gardening Jobs For April

Firstly, apologies that this post is a little late. I normally post about the month’s gardening jobs at the beginning of the month… half term pushed all of this back and so did Spring itself! It’s finally arrived and I am currently spending the majority of the day outside planting and weeding.

A Glorious Month!

The sun has arrived. It’s 29*c outside and I am quickly writing this so I can get back out there and carry on working the veg patches. Seeds are sprouting, plants are coming to life and the greenhouse is looking full. Everything feels AMAZING! When the clock went back a few weeks ago, suddenly longer hours in the day and warmer weather meant that summer really is just around the corner. It seems hard to believe that just a few weeks ago the country was hiding under a thick blanket of snow.

Pot on plants

Some plants can be potted on now. My tomatoes, peppers and some cut flowers have had to be moved into bigger pots, or into their final positions in the garden. You know it is time to pot on when the baby plant grows their first set of true leaves. These leaves look like the leaves that you would expect on a fully grown plant. You should also pot plants on if roots start to appear from the bottom of the pot. If you don’t do this, the plant may become root bound and this stunts the development of the plant.

May all of your weeds be wild flowers

Once the soil warms up and the sun is glorious, not only do your sown seeds start to appear, but so do the weeds too. Keep on top of weeding and you shall save yourself a lot more hard work over the next few weeks. It can be confusing to know what seedlings are flowers or weeds. If you are after a wildflower garden, don’t weed- only remove the very obvious weeds that you are sure you wouldn’t want to keep. A weed after all, is just a plant growing in the wrong place!

I keep my vegetable beds clear of weeds so that my veg plants do not have to compete with the weeds to grow. Weeds hinder the growth of vegetable plants as they steal water, sunlight and oxygen. Less weeds= bigger harvests.

Sow Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are amazing plants to grow. They are beautiful and smell amazing. They are also super easy to grow and the kids will love them. These plants are not edible like our peas found in the freezer. They are just decorative and wonderful for bees and butterflies. Regular pickings of these flowers will give you a bountiful continuous supply of flowers for the house. The more you pick, the more they grow! Grow them up wigwams, garden netting or let them scramble across hedges.

You can sow sweet peas now straight into the earth where they are to grow.

Cover over potatoes

If you planted your first early potatoes last month, you may start to notice the first green shoots emerging from the earth now. As these shoots appear cover them over with more soil. This does a couple of things: protects the young plants from any surprise frosts and encourages more growth below the ground, producing more spuds!

Planting your potatoes in troughs means that you can easily ‘earth up’ your potatoes using the mounds of soil that are next to where you planted your spuds. As the potatoes grow the mound will grow too.

What To Plant This Month

  • Sweetcorn
  • Courgettes and Marrows- despite the rumors these plants are actually different! Sow seeds on edge to prevent rotting.
  • Tomatoes- It’s not too late!
  • Peas and sweet peas
  • Beans- runner, and climbing varieties. Last minute broad beans too!
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Beetroot
  • Raddish
  • Turnips
  • Swede
  • Celeriac
  • Swiss Chard
  • Leeks
  • Aubergines
  • Melons
  • Pumpkin
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower

My Favourite April Plant – Trees in blossom!

OK, not a plant as such but hear me out. Apple trees, pear trees, cherry trees, plum trees…. all of the fruit trees! When I see trees coming into blossom I know that soon fruit shall start to swell and harvesting season shall soon be upon us. It is a small promise of tasty free fruit and a welcome splash of colour to our gardens, orchards, countryside and even roadsides! Next time you are driving down the motorway keep your eyes peeled for all of the amazing fruit trees that have started to grow from fruit tossed from car windows many years ago. Wondeful!

This blossom is from a young cherry tree in my garden.

Self Sufficiency Update

Spring has truly arrived! Yesterday the clocks went forward, the evenings are now longer and the garden has started to wake and burst into life. Everything feels great! We have been so busy over the last few weeks preparing for the upcoming season.

Regular readers of my blog will know that we have been striving to live a more self sufficient lifestyle. 19 months ago we moved house, to a place with a much larger garden- room for our flock of hens and living a grow-your-own life. Last summer we grew lots of food (more courgettes than any human could eat!) but this year we want to do more… lots more! We have an insane amount of space and with some clever planning, we could have our own dream urban mini-farm. We could grow enough food to feed us daily, and preserve some to last over the winter season too.

Waste Free Garden

2 weeks ago, I made a huge decision to try and drastically reduce the amount of waste we create as a family. Part of this was also to ditch plastics and try my hardest to not purchase any more items that contain plastic. It suddenly occurred to me that there were so many plastics found around my garden. Plant pots, compost bags, plant labels… the list goes on. The best method to reduce the amount of new plastic bought into the garden is to reuse as much as you can. Plant pots can all be used and used again, as can plant labels. If I need more labels, I simply cut up a margarine tub and make my own! We make our own compost, but we do need to top up with shop purchased stuff from time to time. This can only be bought wrapped in a large plastic bag. Really darn annoying!

So far this year  I haven’t bought any new plastics for the garden (except for 2 plants, that came in good reusable pots!). We put up a new fence this weekend, and the only waste to come from that job was the plastic bags that the Postcrete came in… 4 small bags in total. But, the job had to be done.

The New Fence

This job was meant to be done last summer, but we never did get around to it. Our dog Scrapper loves to sit and watch the chickens. But unfortunately, he also likes to chase the chickens from time to time. When he does this he just runs straight across the vegetable patches, churning up seeds, knocking the tops off my garlic,  uprooting the onion sets… it’s carnage and stressful. So, we decided to partition off the garden. The top half is now for the kids and the dog. The bottom half is for intensive vegetable growing and the chickens!

Huge thanks to my hubby Jay, who completely surprised me with the new fence after I popped out for 2 hours and came home to his wonderful creation. I painted it… HA!

Digging, Digging and More Digging!

I feel like we have spent the best part of the last 2 weeks digging! The whole bottom half of the garden needed turning over ready for the vegetables to go in. We have a large garden so lots of space for growing.

Unfortunately, the garden had been somewhat neglected by the previous owners. It’s taken 18 months to get the garden completely clear and restored. Last year we grew a lot of food, but this year we are we are growing 6 times as much… in 3 huge beds. As I dig new beds, we are finding lots of rubbish (most of it plastic) and some of this rubbish we have been able to date back to the 80’s! Check out this Milkybar Buttons packet from 1987, sat below the soil for over 30 years. A huge reminder of how vile rubbish can be, and how long it lasts too!


Planting Seeds

Lots of things are being sown at the moment. I have broad beans, onions, garlic, beetroot, parsnips, spring onions, carrots, aubergines, tomatoes, chilli peppers, cucumbers, courgette, peas, cabbage, brussel sprouts, strawberries, and sweetcorn to name a few, all growing nicely. There are still lots more to plant and the season is just beginning! If you would like to see what gardening jobs you can do in March, head over to my helpful post here.

The kids are now wanting to join me more in the garden and are asking for their very own little veg patch. Willow came with me seed shopping a few weeks back and chose some wonderful beans to sow. I am so proud that my children love spending time outside and have such an interest in growing food. Many children, unfortunately, don’t know where much of their food comes from, but seeing my girls understand the earth, seasons, weather and science behind gardening fills me full of confidence for their future!