April is a favourite time of year to spend outdoors for most gardeners. After the hot start to the year, the cooler temperatures make for a refreshing change. We're bound to have some wet days but overall it's one of the most comfortable times to spend long days in the garden. This newsletter contains some useful tips to help you navigate the month.
Seeds to Sow: Soil temperatures are still warm in April which combined with the lowering air temperature makes perfect growing conditions for tender young plants. Sowing now will let your plants establish themselves before the real cool weather hits. Click the links below to browse a huge range of seeds suitable for sowing now:
▩ Cold Climate: Tasmania, Melbourne, Mt Gambier, Canberra, etc.
▩ Moderate Climate: Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, etc.
▩ Warm Climate: Brisbane, Bundaberg, Carnarvon, etc.
▩ Tropical Climate: Broome, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, etc.
▩ Not sure which climate? Click here.
Remove plants that are past their best. Annual flowers and veggies that have passed their best should be removed so soil can be prepared for autumn and winter crops. Crop residue can be composted or dug into the soil. Tomato and potato crops, as well as any diseased plants, are best disposed of to reduce the chance of diseases being carried into following seasons.
Prepare soil by turning over with a fork or rotary hoe. Add compost or well rotted manure by digging into the top layers. This improves soil structure as well as slowly releasing important nutrients for future plants.
Consider planting a green manure crop in any garden bed that will remain unused over autumn/winter. Green manure crops suppress weeds, improve soil structure and add beneficial nutrients to the soil. Read more.
Take advantage of falling leaves by using them as a mulch around plants or by adding to compost heaps.
Check plants for pests and diseases regularly, if you catch them early they're easier to control.
- Aphids can be hosed off, squashed by hand or controlled with a homemade spray.
- Snails can be collected by hand, squashed or caught in beer traps.
- Caterpillars can be removed by hand or controlled with a homemade spray.
- Earwigs can be caught in screwed up pieces of newspaper, which they'll hide in; collect and dispose.
Continue controlling weeds. Annual weeds will be setting seed in Autumn so you need to be diligent in controlling them. Pay particular attention to borders, beds and veggie patches. Keep weeds in check by removing by hand or scratching off at the surface with a garden hoe.
Deadhead spent flowers so plants put energy into new growth instead of seeds. Feeding with a complete fertiliser can also prolong flowering. Cut back perennial herbs and flowers once flowering has finished. Read more.
Strong wind and heavy rain is common in April. Tall plants that risk falling over should be staked.
Sunlight. Some parts of your garden that were in full sun in summer may be hidden in shadow in the cooler months; ensure to choose shade-loving plants for these positions. (Planting a green manure crop is another option for shady positions)
Pick vegetables regularly to encourage more fruit and faster growth. Remove any damaged or rotting fruit that might risk attracting pests or encouraging diseases. Read more.
Preserve and share. Don't let any of your produce go to waste. If you have more than you need preserve by freezing, bottling or drying. Sharing with friends and family is just as good.
Containers: Re-pot any plants that have outgrown their containers or would benefit from some fresh soil. Move any frost tender plants into more sheltered positions before temperatures drop further. Reduce watering as the weather cools; over-watering is one of the biggest killers of container grown plants.