Garden Care in April
What to Do
If you are living in an area prone to frost, be sure to pick up some frost protection from your local accredited garden centre before winter arrives in full force. Planning in advance will allow you to make sure you have all those delicate plants protected before you are caught off guard.
Mulching your beds will also help to keep the soil temperature slightly warmer during those chilly nights.
You will benefit in the long run by spending a little time in your garden, cleaning out the dead plants and sweeping up the fallen leaves. (You should add them to the compost heap.)
Your containers and window boxes will appreciate a generous layer of new potting soil so remove about one third from the top and replace it with the new soil.
Climbing sweet peas must be trained up a wire or a trellis; removing all unnecessary tendrils and superfluous growth at the base of the plants. Keep well watered until your plants are established.
It’s time to repot potted plants that have outgrown their containers. Choose a pot two sizes bigger than their original home. Carefully remove the plant from its pot. Cut back any dead or straggly roots and tease out tangled roots. Place it in the new pot with a fresh helping of potting soil and some liquid plant food. Firm the plant in place and water well.
April is the perfect time to buy and plant out primula, poppy, pansy and gazania seedlings. Keep the seedling trays once you have planted out your winter colour as they are perfect for sowing any seeds you buy in spring.
Plant bulbs! April is the perfect time to plant a selection of South Africa’s indigenous bulbs such as watsonia, freesia, ixia, chincherinchee and Sparaxis and non-indigenous bulbs such as daffodils, irises, tulips and hyacinths.
Plant out perennial plants, such as lupins, Shasta daisies, and aquilegias.
Planting new roses now will allow them to ‘settle-in’ during winter and will also give them a head start in spring. Make sure that you continue to spray your roses against fungal diseases such as mildew and black spot.
April is an excellent planting and transplanting month for all trees and shrubs. The worst of the summer heat is over. Before transplanting trees or shrubs, prepare the soil in the new position by adding plenty of compost and fertiliser. Water the tree and the hole where it will be planted well before transplanting.
What to Sow
April is not too late to be sowing seed for great winter gardens, and nearly all cool season varieties will thrive if sown early in the month.
Flowers that can still be sown are the African daisy, Mesembryanthemums, Winter Scatter Packs and the Indigenous Scatter Pack Mix. Individual varieties are Virginian stocks, calendula and felicia.
Veggies that can be sown now include peas, parsnips, carrots, onion Texas Grano (must be a short day variety), beetroot Bulls Blood (for the leaves which will give extra vitamins in winter) and broccoli.
For a winter production of healthy herbs start sowing seeds in window sill containers. All that is needed for a good crop is high light levels and a reasonable indoor temperature. Guard against leaving containers on windowsill over night as glass is not a good insulator and cold will affect the plants.
What to Spray
Garden pests are still out and about at this time of the year feasting on new growth. This is what you should be looking out for: Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your flowers a close inspection and if there are still a few around control with Plant Protector.
Snails and slugs are active in March, devastating leaves on plants and ruining their appearance. Snailban and Snailflo are just two of the products which you can pick up from your local accredited garden centre.
Autumn is the peak season for leaf miner. Leaf miner causes twisting and curling on new leaves. Control with regular applications of Eco Insect Control SC.
Take a close look at the plants in the garden, now that the leaves are starting to thin out on deciduous trees, shrubs and roses, it’s a good time to see if there are any scale insects on the stems and branches. Scale is a sap sucking insect that can cause severe damage to many types of plants in the garden. They can be eradicated by spraying with Malasol or Oleum in the cooler months.
Watch out for ant movement, as they are the main culprits for transferring disease around the garden. Sprinkle Ant Dust around their holes and along their trails. This is one of the best times to attack these problems.
Feed your winter flowering plants such as Hellebores to encourage them to give a dramatic winter show later in the season when little else is brave enough to flower. Your local garden centre can supply you with information on the best fertiliser to use.
Digging over your vegetable beds now will benefit your winter crops. Add in a layer of compost and fork into the ground to a depth of 30cm along with a handful of organic bone meal or general purpose fertiliser. This will add vital nutrients to the soil and will encourage stronger root growth for all those winter veggies.
When cyclamen buds start to appear on last year’s plants – start feeding them every second week (feeding is crucial for cyclamens to re-flower).
Feed aloes and flowering succulents for a good winter show.
Feed your lawn with 2.3.2
Feed sweet peas with liquid fertiliser and train them up onto a net or lattice.
Feed citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts per tree.