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April is the month when winter finally slips its chilly grip and the first real hint of summer is felt. with longer evenings encroaching and rising soil temperatures, growth begins in earnest. The soil will be drying out enough to allow the sowing of seeds. There is usually a period of ideal sowing weather in April and take advantage of this.

The lawn is still some peoples first start in the garden this month. You can continue cutting now on a regular basis, if conditions are o.k. A lot of people have come in and asked about moss and scarifying the lawn. A lawn over a period of time can build up a spongy layer called thatch. This is a mix of old dead grass and you get this spongy layer in the lawn This can be got rid of by scarifying your lawn. You can either hire a scarifier or get a scarifying blade put on to your existing lawnmower. This roots out all this layer and will leave you with a lot of debris to rake up and get rid of. You could then apply something like the Golden Vale 3:1 which will feed the lawn, and kill off any remaining moss and weeds in the lawn. This is applied at a rate of 2 ozs to the square yard.

All established trees and shrubs can be continued to be fed with any tree and shrub fertiliser or with 7:6:17 at a rate of roughly 2 ozs to each plant. All the summer bulbs can still be planted, such as Dahlias, Lilies, Begonias, Gladioli, etc.

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 length of 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 of vegetables encourage weeds.

An important point to consider about sowing vegetable seeds is the firmnesss of the tilth—the top few inches of finely cultivated soil. For large vegetables such as peas and beans this need not be so fine. But for smaller seeds such as onions, carrotts and lettuce, the tilth needs to be as fine as sugar if possible.

Be careful however not to overdo the tilling of soil. If it is made too fine, a problem called capping can occur. This occurs when the fine soil sticks together after rain to form a capping on the surface. Small seedlings can find it impossible to break through this layer. A shake of coarse sand raked into the surface of the seed bed before sowing will prevent the 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 sowing depths for vegetables, perhaps between 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch. In practice, a sowing depth of a 1/2 is difficult to achieve and most gardeners will sow a bit more deeply, but don’t sow any deeper than 1 in.

That’s it for now, happy gardening,
Bosco McDermott Jnr. Glynn’s Garden Centre, Lydican, Oranmore.