April, the clock has gone forward and with the arrival of the long evenings our interest in the garden has been re-awakened.
Trees are beginning to break into leaf and soon you will notice all the flowering cherries and flowering crabs break into bloom.
You can start planting. Seed potatoes can be still sown, British Queens as second earlies and the maincrop varieties of Records, Roosters, Kerr Pinks, and Golden Wonders. Cabbage plants, particularly Early York plants can be sown now. Plant sets and shallots (onions) now also. The seeds of other vegetables could also be started now. Getting vegetable seeds off to a good start is a very important factor for successful vegetable growing. If the seeds are weakened by unfavourable soil conditions, the young plants may struggle to become established and may not do that well. There is the problem of gaps in the row of seedlings, caused by variations of conditions along the row.
This is usually caused by uneven soil preparation due to lumpy or wet ground. Apart from being a waste of effort, gaps in the cover, encourage weeds.
An important point to consider about sowing vegetable seeds is the firmness of the tilth—the top few inches of finely cultivated soil. For large vegetable seeds such as peas and beans, the tilth need not be so fine. But for smaller seeds such as onions, carrots, and lettuce the tilth needs to be as fine as possible. Be careful though not to overdo the tilling of the soil. If it is made too fine, a problem called capping can occur. This occurs when the fine soil sticks together after rain, forming a cap on the surface. Small seedlings can find it impossible to break through this layer. A shake of coarse sand into the surface of the seed bed will help prevent this problem.
Finally, be careful not to sow vegetable seeds too deeply—the effort involved in pushing to the surface can be too much for them. Seed packets often give very shallow depths for vegetables, perhaps between ½ inch and ¾ inch. In practice, a sowing depth of a ½ inch is difficult to achieve and most gardeners will sow a bit more deeply, but don’t sow any deeper than 1 inch!
Vegetable transplants from boxes should be planted from the end of April on so as to avoid frost.
Feed any fruit trees with sulphate of potash now, to help fruiting.
It’s too late to spray fruit trees with tar oil now. Continue planting your fruit trees now, pears, plums, cherries, apples and the soft fruit bushes, blackcurrants, gooseberries, etc. now.
The lawn is still some peoples first start in the garden this month. You can continue to cut on a regular basis now if conditions are ok. A lot of people are coming to me this year with the problem of moss in the lawn. Because of the heavy soils in this vicinity and the wet winters and summers you will always have a degree of moss. Moss in a lawn can also be caused by shade, poor drainage and cutting the lawn too low. You should always have an inch of grass on lawn. Collecting the grass clippings is also important because if you don’t ,it leads to a spongy layer called thatch. This is a mix of old dead grass and moss. This can be got rid of by a scarifying blade put on to your existing lawnmower. This sorts all this layer and will leave you with a lot of debris to rake up and get rid of.
You could then apply a lawn weed and feed such as Golden Vale 3 in 1 which has all the general fertilisers to feed the lawn, two weedkillers to till weeds in the lawn and sulphate of Iron that kills the moss and gives the lawn a dark green colour. This is applied at a rate of 23 ozs to the square yard.
All trees and shrubs can be fed now with a tree and shrub fertiliser or 7:6:17 at a rate of 2 ozs (1 good fistful) to each plant. Scatter it around the soil at the base of the plant.
Anyone wishing to plant summer bulbs should do so now—bulbs such as Gladioli, Lilies, Begonias and Dahiahls need to be planted soon.
Finally, I am asked quite a lot when is the best time to plant trees and shrubs. Nowadays most plants are containerised so as they can be planted all year round.
However, when planting in winter if it is very exposed, it’s best left until Spring as the plants are not actively growing and get beaten by the elements: whereas in Spring the are coming into growth and take off much better.
That’s it for now, happy gardening,
Glynn’s Gardening Centre & Fruit & Veg, Lydacan, Oranmore (Tel: 799135).