5 April 2013
April Tasks for the Vegetable Gardener
Now that April has arrived the temperature should be rising, though we can still expect cold nights and probably some cold days as well. Whatever you are doing take the weather into account. Jobs that can be carried out safely in some parts of the country will be better put off for a couple of weeks in cooler areas.
With the rising temperature come weeds. Controlling them now will make for an easier life later.
If you have any horticultural fleece or polythene, use it to warm the soil before planting. Even a small rise in soil temperature will help.
Apply soil improvers such as well-rotted farmyard manure and compost this month, but bear in mind that some plants don't like freshly-manured soil.
There are numerous vegetables to sow and plant outside, some of which you might normally have planted in March if it hadn't been so cold in most areas. However you may want to sow some of the following in modules for planting out later. I planted some peas and spring onions in modules yesterday.
Beetroot - early and maincrop
Peas - early, maincrop, mange tout and sugar snap
Chard - Swiss, Rainbow, Ruby and other types
Carrots - early and maincrop (cover with fleece to keep out carrot root fly, making sure the edges are buried).
Summer cabbage, onions - sets and grown from seed, and potatoes can be planted out. However early young potato shoots may need protecting from frost and icy winds - either by covering them or by earthing-up.
Autumn-sown peas may be ready for support by now - either twigs or netting. You could also prepare supports for beans as this will be needed shortly.
The following can be sown in a heated greenhouse or on a windowsill
I already have some Alicante and Red Cherry tomato seeds growing but I put a few more in yesterday just to be on the safe side.
Prick out seedlings before they become straggly and on sunny days shade seedlings growing in the greenhouse or on the windowsill.
French beans sweetcorn and lettuce can be sown outside if protected by a cloche - otherwise wait a bit longer.
There should be enough jobs there to keep you occupied till May - let's just hope we get good gardening weather.
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