April is a month of changeable weather – one day it’s sunny and warm and the next it’s wet and cold! However there is plenty to do in the garden this month and plenty to see as flowers bloom, seeds germinate and wildlife begins to emerge after the long winter.
Take a good look around your garden now and see how many flowers you have in bloom. If you don’t have many then consider adding more early flowering plants as these are a vital food source for insects and will help them regain their strength after hibernation. Recommendations are Muscari, Primula, Snakeshead Fritillary, Narcissus, Pulmonaria and Forget-Me-Not.
The vegetable garden should be in full swing now although there is not a lot to harvest yet. Most summer vegetables can be sown now but be cautious with tender crops such as runner beans. I often take a risk and sow a small batch as if the frosts are mild it means that I get an early crop!
As the weather warms up weed seeds will begin to germinate. Try not to leave it until your beds are full of weeds as it is likely that some of them will have produced seeds and this will create a long term problem. I use a hand fork to weed and work on a section at a time. As I am on the same level as my plants it enables me to take a good look at them and make sure they are healthy – this is very important if you don’t want to use chemicals as it is easier to control a problem if it is caught early.
Pest control is an important aspect of eco-friendly gardening. In an ideal world your garden would be a perfectly balanced eco-system where predators control the number of pests. However, real life is rarely like that. Barrier methods are a good way to control pests on your edible crops. I use enviromesh on my brassicas and that works very well.
Slugs and snails are a very difficult pest to control. Using a mulch of eggshells or coffee grinds can help and plants in pots can be protected with an adhesive copper tape. Ferric phosphate based slug pellets are suitable for organic use as they break down into iron and phosphate which is good for plant growth. Try to use pellets as a last resort or when protecting seedlings rather than as a first choice – remember slugs and snails are a food source for many animals.
Aphids can be controlled by squashing them with your fingers – icky but effective! Encourage ladybirds and lacewings into your garden as they will help keep the aphid numbers down.