THE internet guide to Northamptonshire UK
YOUR MONTHLY GARDENING DIARY
Although April is mid-spring, you need to be very careful and aware of changeable weather. Cold nights, frosts and general low temperatures are all possibilities, which can adversely affect young, new growth, bedding and young vegetable plants. And, of course, there’s always the chance of April showers – or even torrential downpours!
FLOWER BEDS AND BORDERS
For a quick and easy colourful summer feature, sow hardy annual seed outdoors where you want them to flower. There are dozens of types to choose from including Calendula (pot marigolds), Eschscholzia (Californian poppies), Limnanthes, Lobularia and Nemophila.
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Marking out irregularly shaped seedbeds and broadcasting drifts of different varieties over the soil gives a natural look. You may find it better to sow in rows in these shaped areas, as it is easier to distinguish between flower and weed seedlings, as you know where the flowers have been sown. For a really simple way of creating colourful annual flower borders, use Miracle-Gro Flower Magic. It is a 3-in-1 mixture of premium flower seeds, slow-release Miracle-Gro plant food that feeds the plants for up to four months and coir compost. The compost takes care of the seeds and seedlings as they grow. It absorbs water like a sponge when wetted, expanding instantly to surround the seeds in a moist, protective layer. It continues to care for the seedlings, providing them with water and nutrients, so they produce strong plants. All you have to do is keep the compost moist during the germination and early growth of the seedlings and then when the established plants need further watering during the summer. The compost changes colour when it dries out, so it’s easy to see when the seedlings need watering.
The most important time for bulbs is after they’ve finished flowering – this is when they are building up their strength and producing their flower buds for next year’s display. Deadhead daffodils and other spring-flowering bulbs as the flowers fade. Carefully pull or cut off the seed heads, leaving the stems and leaves to die down naturally. It may be tempting to remove the foliage or tie it into neat knots, but the bulbs need the leaves to feed them. Give them a feed every two or three weeks with Miracle-Gro All Purpose Soluble Plant Food to help build up their strength. By looking after the plants now you can ensure a quality display next year.
Rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias should be flowering well this month. To keep them strong, healthy and flowering well they need a good feed. You can either use Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Soluble or Liquid Plant Food or Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Continuous Release Plant Food, which will keep plants well fed for up to six months from just one application. Continuous Release feeds are perfect if you are short of time and don’t always remember to feed regularly with liquid feeds.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPForward planning is the key to success when it comes to supporting plants. Put supports in place now to ensure the plants grow around and through them, providing natural looking, optimum support and covering them so they’re not obtrusive.
PATIO GARDENINGMiracle-Gro Flower Magic Pots & Containers is NEW for 2014 and contains, shorter more compact varieties than the other Miracle-Gro Flower Magic mixes, making it the perfect choice for patio containers. It has all the advantages of the other Miracle-Gro Flower Magic mixes.
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Keep spring flower displays looking good and flowering well until they can be replaced with summer bedding by feeding regularly with a liquid feed, such as Miracle-Gro All Purpose Soluble Plant Food or Miracle-Gro All Purpose Concentrated Liquid Plant Food.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPSlugs can be a real problem in containers. If you start to see damage to your plants make sure you protect them from further attack with SlugClear Ultra pellets or liquid SlugClear.
LAWN CARENo doubt you’ll be mowing the lawn regularly now. Mowing removes a lot of nutrients, so for a fabulous looking lawn you need to replace these nutrients with a lawn feed. Feeding not only improves the colour, but it also makes the grass thicker, stronger and healthier so it is better equipped to fight off moss, weeds and even waterlogging, cold weather and drought.
Granular feeds are best at this time of year, as they will feed the lawn for several weeks. NEW EverGreen Extreme Green will start to green up the grass in just three days, and where weeds and moss are a problem EverGreen Complete 4in1 will feed and deal with both of these problems at the same time.
If your lawn is looking thin, patchy or has bare areas, now’s the time to do something about it to ensure a lovely lush, green lawn for summer.
Lightly fork over the soil in any bare areas and mix in some compost. Then lightly scatter grass seed over the soil at a rate of 25-30g per sq m (¾-1oz per sq yard). Lightly rake in the seed and water well with a watering can fitted with a fine rose. Or, to make this job simpler, just use Miracle-Gro Patch Magic!
Never rake out live moss from the lawn, as this can spread it and make the problem worse. Kill it first with a suitable lawn mosskiller before attempting to remove it.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPUse shears to regularly trim around the edges of the lawn to create a sharp line or curve. A definite contrast between the edge of the lawn and the surrounding soil or flowers gives a great look that shows you really care.
GROWN YOUR OWN - VEGETABLESIt’s all systems go in the veg garden this month as there are lots of crops to sow, including beetroot, carrot, cauliflower, kohl rabi, leek, lettuce, onion, parsnip, pea, radish, salad leaves, spinach, summer cabbage, Swiss chard and turnip.
You can also sow indoors with some gentle heat all those crops that need a warmer start to life, including aubergine, cucumber, French bean, pumpkin and squashes, runner bean, sweet pepper and tomato. If you don’t have the facilities to grow these crops from seed, most are available as young plants from your garden centre.
This is also the time to plant out seed potatoes. There are a number of different ways to grow potatoes. The traditional way is to dig a trench and plant them 10cm (4in) deep. Alternatively, plant them shallowly through black plastic sheeting to prevent having to earth them up and reduce weed problems. You can even grow them in large pots or in a Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own gro-sac for potatoes and root vegetables.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPCold winds and frosts can damage young seedlings or newly emerging potato shoots, so have some fleece handy once the growth comes through the soil to protect them if adverse conditions are forecast.
GROWN YOUR OWN - FRUITContainer-grown fruit can be planted now, but try and get planting finished by the end of the month. Make sure the soil is well prepared before planting. Dig in plenty of organic matter, such as Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner or Levington Organic Blend Farmyard Manure, and add Miracle-Gro Bone Meal Natural Root Builder to help improve root growth and establishment. Mix in more organic matter with the soil dug out from the planting hole.
Always plant at the same depth that the plant was originally growing and firm the soil around the roots.
Trees will need to be staked with a good tree stake and secured with two tree ties. Water in well and water in dry weather, as the plants won’t have much time to establish before the summer.
After planting, mulch the soil around fruit trees and bushes with Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Decorative Pine Bark or Levington Water Saving Decorative Bark to help keep weeds down and maintain soil moisture levels in summer.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPMelons can be successfully grown in the UK, but for best results they are best grown in a greenhouse or frame. Now’s the time to sow seeds in small pots of compost. You will need a heated propagator or a warm place for good germination.
TREES, SHRUBS, ROSES & CLIMBERSRoses are great plants for producing a wealth of colour during the summer – and often well into autumn and winter. And, of course, many varieties produce fabulous scents making them great additions to any garden. Although some are resistant to diseases, others are much less so and will need protection against the three disfiguring diseases – mildew, rust and blackspot. It’s important to spray with a fungicide at the first sign of disease attack, before it takes hold, so now’s the time to get going. FungusClear Ultra is one of the best fungicides for protecting ornamental plants. If your roses are also suffering from insect attack, RoseClear Ultra has a combined fungicide and insecticide, so will clear up and give protection against insect pests (see label for details) too.
Try to tie in the shoots of climbing plants on a regular basis as they grow. Regular tying in will ensure the plants cover their supports as you want them to and, as a result, they look far more attractive. Leaving it too late will result in a ‘bird’s-nest’ tangled mess of shoots.
When training the shoots, wherever possible or practical, try to tie them in as near to horizontal as possible or, if more suitable, into a fan shape. This reduces the leafy growth and encourages more flowers as a result. If the support is a pillar, carefully wind the stems around it, rather than just letting them grow towards the sky.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPRemove reverted all-green shoots from variegated evergreen shrubs. These shoots can soon take over and spoil the overall appearance of the plant. Cut them back to where the variegation starts or remove them completely
GENERAL GARDENING JOBSPests and diseases can affect a wide range of plants, reducing the enjoyment of your garden. Pests can quickly get out of control – one or two aphids can soon become tens or hundreds of thousands. But regularly walking or patrolling your garden looking for problems and dealing with them before they get out of control, will mean you can enjoy your garden much more. Having a ready-to-use insecticide, such as BugClear Ultra Gun! and BugClear Gun! For Fruit & Veg, and a fungicide, such as FungusClear Ultra Gun!, readily to hand means you can deal with pests and diseases before they get out of control and become a problem. Always read the label before use to check the product is suitable for the problem and plants in question.
Sorry for further bad news, but weeds will be appearing in earnest this month too! One of the easiest ways of keeping them in check is to hoe the seedlings/young plants regularly. Or you could apply a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep mulch of Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Decorative Pine Bark or Levington Water Saving Decorative Bark to prevent annual weed growth in the first place.
Perennial weeds with deep taproots, such as dandelions, or horizontal roots, such as ground elder, could be dug up using a hand fork or sprayed with a weedkiller containing glyphosate, such as Weedol Rootkill Plus or any Roundup product, which will kill the roots as well as the top growth.
If your garden has suffered from flooding, waterlogging or is generally wet after the wettest winter on record, then look at theMiracle-Gro Garden Flooding & Waterlogging Rescue Guide.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPHoes only work well if they have a sharp blade. So always carry a sharpening stone with you when hoeing weeds in the garden.
HOUSEPLANTSHouseplants will be growing strongly now, so check regularly to make sure the compost doesn’t dry out. The aim should be to keep the compost just moist. Always use tepid water, not cold water straight from the tap, and make sure you don’t overwater – more houseplants are killed by overwatering than any other reason.
And, as they’re growing well, you need to feed regularly with Miracle-Gro Pour & Feed.
EXPERT GARDENING TIPTidy up houseplants to remove dead or dying leaves and spent flowers. This not only makes them look more attractive, but also helps reduce any build-up of problems.
GARDENING INFORMATION FROM The Scotts Company (UK) Limited
WRITTEN BY GEOFF HODGE
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. USE PESTICIDES SAFELY
Use plant protection products safely. Always read the label and product information before use. BugClear™ Gun! for Fruit & Veg contains pyrethrins. BugClear Ultra Gun! contains acetamiprid EverGreen® Complete 4in1 contains MCPA, mecoprop-P and ferrous sulphate. FungusClear® Ultra and FungusClear® Ultra Gun! contain triticonazole. RoseClear® Ultra contains triticonazole and acetamiprid. The Roundup® range of products contain glyphosate. SlugClear Ultra™ and SlugClear™ contain metaldehyde Weedol® Rootkill Plus contains glyphosate and pyraflufen ethyl. Products marked ® and ™, Miracle-Gro and Levington are trademarks of The Scotts Company LLC or its subsidiaries. Roundup® is the registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Salisbury House, Catteshall Lane, Godalming, Surrey GU7 1XE. Tel 0845 190 1881
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