When I first started to grow vegetables I really needed the information to be in one place, so I could look it up easily. However, I found I had to search for lots of little bits of information, scattered between internet sites and books. It used to take me a long time to find the information I needed.
I thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of the UK gardeners, I write a list of things to be done each month and any useful information I can think of.
It is worth remembering that different parts of the UK have different weather conditions e.g. the last frost is expected earlier in the south than the north.
It must also be noted that it has been very cold lately and the soil is still very cold, therefore please remember that this is a general guide.
April is a ‘lean’ month as there isn’t too much around to harvest from your kitchen garden, but it is a busy month with all the seeds that need to be sown. It is probably best not to sow most seeds outdoors yet, unless it is an exceptionally mild spring as it is more likely that your seeds will rot in the cold, damp soil.
Snow isn’t unheard of in April, but it rarely lasts long, but ground frosts are still possible at night so be very careful not to put tender plants outside too early.
Vegetables and salads to harvest:
You may still have some leeks to harvest and curly kale. Hopefully you can harvest your spring broccoli and your first asparagus this month, together with spring cabbages and cauliflowers. Winter hardy lettuces, corn salad, mizuna, etc. can be harvested and winter hardy spring onions will be ready now. Rocket can be picked when the leaves are approximately two inches long. Perpetual spinach sowed in Autumn will be ready too together with Swiss chard.
The first rhubarb can be picked this month too.
Vegetables and salads to sow outdoors:
The following seeds can be sown outdoors under cover, i.e. a cloche, cold greenhouse or a polytunnel, provided the soil temperature is beginning to warm up. This is usually when the annual weeds begin to grow again, however if you are unsure you can invest in a soil thermometer.
The soil can be warmed for a few weeks before sowing, by placing plastic sheeting on the ground.
Turnips, salad leaves e.g. corn salad, rocket, land cress and lettuces, radish, beetroot, mangetout and peas. Broad beans, brussel sprouts, cabbages, calabrese, cauliflowers, kale, watercress, sorrel, kohl rabi, parsnips, spinach, spring onions, sprouting broccoli, swiss chard, leeks, spinach and carrots. Most herbs can be sown now too.
Vegetables and salads to sow indoors:
These seeds can be sown on a warm windowsill or a heated greenhouse. Remember most of these plants are frost sensitive and you will probably only be able to plant them out around the end of May, depending where you live in the country, so don’t sow them all at the beginning of April unless you have somewhere warm to keep the plants until the risk of frost has passed you by.
Celeriac, Tomatoes, Celery, peppers (sweet and chili), sweet corn, runner beans, all squashes e.g. patty pans, cucumbers, pumpkins, courgettes, marrow, gherkins, shark fin melons, french beans, endive, aubergines, fennel and chicory.
Things to plant (if the soil is not frozen or waterlogged):
New Jerusalem artichokes tubers should be planted by the end of April and so should asparagus crowns or it will be too late for them.
Offsets taken from established globe artichokes plants can be planted this month. Lettuces and salad leaves can be planted out, but they will still need a bit of protection if there are frosts.
Kohl rabi, kale, Onion sets, Peas, potatoes, Radishes, spouting broccoli, cauliflowers.
Plant container grown fruit trees and fruit bushes too.
Plant greenhouse crops e.g. tomatoes towards the end of the month.
Jobs to do:
Keep sowing seeds and pricking out seedlings.
Water seedlings when required.
Pot on plants that are outgrowing the pot they are in, before they become ‘pot-bound’.
Harden off plants ready to plant them out.
Watch out for late frosts and protect plants if need be.
Hoe and weed regularly.
Remove the covers that you put over your rhubarb to blanch the stems and enjoy lovely pink stems.
April pests and diseases:
Pigeons are hungry and love eating brassicas so keep them netted.
Slugs will eat newly planted seedlings
Flea beetle can be a problem this month, leaving tiny little holes all over leaves. Plants do usually recover, though when they are badly affected it can stunt their growth.
Cabbage root fly can cause a problem by laying their eggs at the base of brassicas, so it is best to fit cabbage collars around the base of them.
Continue to check for ‘big bud mite’ on blackcurrants. The buds will actually look big and swollen if affected.
Check gooseberry and currant bushes for the sawfly larvae which look like caterpillar’s and pick them off.
I hope this information has been helpful.
Thank you for reading my blog today.