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  • Writer's pictureJulie Smith

Gardening in April

Sowing leaves: You can start planting or transplanting some cool weather salad and leaves outside like mustard green, spinach, chard, and collard green. use some horticultural fleece to keep them snug at night (it can get frosty until late may!). I would also sow some indoors/ under cover to cover all bases.

Sow it right: sow your seeds in seed sowing compost (not multipurpose compost). Seed sowing compost is made to promote root development and create strong seedlings. Multipurpose compost is too rich and as a result seedlings don’t develop a strong root system and you risk growing thin and flimsy seedlings. Seeds need to be sown at their own depth, so peas and beans need to be dropped in a small hole, while salad seeds are dropped on the top of the compost and very lightly covered. Big and medium seeds like peas, beens, beets, tomatoes and squashes do best in modules with 2 seeds per module, while smaller seeds like carrots, salads, cabbages, and most herbs are easier sown in trays. Make sure you label everything with the type of plant, the variety and the date (e.g. Kale, Cavolo Nero, 5/04/2020).

It’s all about the soil: cover your garden with a layer of quality compost (even better if it’s home made!): it will help warm up the soil, while providing extra organic matter for the soil life. By the time you transplant seedlings in your garden, you’ll have a rich soil, teaming with life, and your plants will thrive.

Manage green and black flies: fresh young plants can attract a lot of insects in search of food, especially in the spring. To manage aphids, I use garlic spray liberally on the affected areas (1 head of garlic crushed, steeped in 1 L of boiling water, cooled down). Planting pot marigolds will attract insects that consume aphids like hover-flies and lacewings.

Transplanting: when is it time to transplant your seedlings? Once your seedlings have 4 true leaves. The first two leaves of any seedlings are called cotyledon, and they are different from the adult leaves- often they look different too. For example, all cabbages’ cotyledon are lovely heart shaped leaves (which is helpful when you forget the labels!). Once your seedling has 4 leaves that look like the adult leaves, they can be transplanted. In April, I am transplanting most of my seedlings in bigger pots and leaving them indoors, as it’s not yet time to take them outside in the UK.

Grow your potatoes right: If you haven’t yet planted your potatoes, now is the time! If you are planting your potatoes in the ground, make sure you dig trenches (20cm deep, potatoes planted 30cm apart) and leave mounds of extra soil on the side of your trench. As soon as leaves show up, you know you are on the right track. You then need to earth up your potatoes regularly: it means covering most of the leaves and stems of the plant with soil, until only a few leaves are poking at the top. It will promote roots and tuber growth (more potatoes!). If you plant potatoes in container, start quite low in the container and add soil when earthing up. Not sure what potatoes to grow? Check my blog on potatoes types here.

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