April—long evenings and the weather changing from the grimness of winter to the throes of summer. If you are a gardener or a farmer you long for these days to arrive.
Everything in the garden can be done now.
In the vegetable garden you can sow seed potatoes, maincrop varieties from now such as Kerrs Pink, Records, Roosters and Golden Wonders. Sow onion sets and shallots, cabbage plants (early york varieties). You could also start sowing direct with carrots and parsnips. Those with the carrot fly problem sow the variety Parano. Also if you sow early, and pick early and by sowing garlic cloves or onion sets between the rows of carrots; this also helps to prevent the carrot fly. Other plants such as lettuce, scallions, tomato plants, etc are best left to be planted towards the end of the month.
Sowing a lawn in April is ideal, as the soil temperature is high and the seed germinates a lot quicker. Sow a lawn with a no. 2 seed mixture at a rate of 2 ozs to the square yard or 35 gms to the square metre. Rake the seed in lightly after sowing and roll lightly afterwards.
Your lawn will need feeding now. Feed with a Golden Vale 3:1 lawn, WEED and FEED. This has a general fertiliser to feed the lawn, two weedkillers (2-4 D and McPA) to kill any weeds in the lawn, and sulphate of iron to kill any moss and give the grass a dark green colour.
If you have a lot of moss in your lawn, you may need to scarify it. The moss is made up of a layer known as thatch – made up of dead grass and moss and has a spongy effect when you walk on it. You can scarify it—hire a scarify or put a scarifying blade on your lawnmower (ask your lawnmower agent or hire shop). This roots out all the old grass and moss. Collect this and then apply your 3:1 lawn WEED and FEED.
Tip: Always have at least an inch of grass on your lawn, never cut too low and always collect your grass clippings. Feed at least once a year.
All trees and shrubs can be sown now. Feed all established trees and shrubs now with any general tree and shrub fertiliser or 7:6:17; at a rate of 2 ozs to each plant. Plants in flower now to look out for, these are especially nice, would be Prunus Shirontae, a double white flowering cherry with prostate branches and Dicentra Formosa, known as fisherman’s rod or the bleeding heart. This is a perennial with a beautiful arching stem of red flowers. The last one is Osmanthus Burkwoodii, and evergreen shrub with a beautiful white scented flower from April-May.
With summer type weather arriving people are asking about bedding plants. Bedding plants should not be planted out until the 1st or 2nd week in May when the threat of frost is gone.
The following is a little advice on how to plant up a hanging basket:
- With moss or a bought liner, line the basket packing moss firmly in place. It is easier to work the moss if it is slightly moist.
- Fill the basket with a multi-purpose compost or potting compost and firm it in gently. When filling, rest the basket on a bucket to stop it moving.
- Remove well watered plants from their pots. Plant from the centre working outwards firming the plants in place as you go.
- Water the basket evenly and hang in a greenhouse/tunnel or a well lit and sheltered spot, for about two weeks so that the plants can establish.
Plants such as lobelia trailing varieties, trailing geraniums, pelarogoniums, surlinia petunias felicia, helichrysum etc are ideal in hanging baskets. I will advise on all these and the best buys and how to match and mix colours in beds in the next issue.
That’s it for now, happy gardening,
Bosco McDermott, Jnr.
Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican, Claregalway.