In April growing vegetables for beginners really starts to get going. During April the days are getting longer and the sun is getting stronger.
Here are a few hints and tips about how to vegetable garden in the month of April. The mention of April conjures up the thought of spring and the fresh green appearing everywhere encourages us to get our hands into the garden soil.
Now is the ideal time to consider seed sowing. If you have not bought your vegetable seeds do not despair as many shops and garden centres will still have seeds for sale.
To catch up with some varieties of vegetables you will be able to buy vegetable plants. But do make sure that they are or have been hardened off properly before planting out in the vegetable garden.
Rake over land be used for early sowings and cover with cloches or polythene to keep warm.
Growing Vegetables for Beginners in April
If the weather was kind to you there is a possibility that you may have been able to get started growing potatoes in March/ In which case your potatoes may be ready for their first earthing up. This process is essential to keep light off your tubers which would result in them turning green. Earthing up should start as soon as the shoots are showing through the soil, especially if there is a risk of frost. Eventually the ridge will be 10 to 12 inches high.
An alternative method of growing is under black polythene which prevents light reaching the tubers and therefore earthing up is not necessary. If severe frost is forecast supplement the black polythene by adding a material such as horticultural fleece for insulation.
In the first half of April plant out your chitted second early potatoes. In the second half of the month plant out your chitted maincrop potatoes.
Plant your potatoes by digging out deep trenches or alternatively dig individual planting holes. Whichever of the techniques you utilise add a 2 inch (5cm) mound of soil above soil level. If space is at a premium or the most suitable aspect is on a hard landscaped area try growing in tubs, large pots or old compost bags. Special kits can be purchased along with compost and fertiliser.
Plant Shallots into the vegetable patch if not already planted in March.
Plant out garlic cloves but remember that it is better to buy specially prepared bulbs. Plant individual cloves of garlic approximately 5cm (2″) deep, 15cm (6″) apart.
Plant out onion sets or onions sown from seed earlier in the season as soon as the soil is fit to do so.
Check regularly to make sure they have not been pulled onto the surface by birds.
Remember that to prevent diseases do not use ground that has been used to grow onions in the previous three years. A good tip is to leave enough space for weed hoeing when planting rows of onion sets.
Plant asparagus crowns in a well prepared asparagus bed. The bed will be sustain the asparagus plants for many years so it is wise to incorporate plenty of organic matter and ensure that a deep, friable bed results.
Resist the temptation to cut spears in the first season. Allow the crowns to get established so that they will serve you better in years to come.
Whether grown in a greenhouse or out in the garden tomatoes are tasty additions to the kitchen.
If you have not sown tomatoes yet there is still time to do so in April although the crop will be ripe later in the season.
Pot up tomato seedlings into 3 inch pots once they have developed true leaves above the seed leaves.
Next step with tomatoes plant into the greenhouse border, pot on into larger pots or growing-bags or use a combination of both of the latter by planting into bottomless pots placed on top of a growbag.
Alternatively buy plants and pot on when necessary. When buying plants only buy those labeled with the variety so that you know what to expect at fruiting time. Do not buy any that look under stress or are “very leggy”.
When to plant tomatoes depends upon your climate and whether you are growing outside or have a greenhouse or warm conservatory to bring the plants on during the colder months.
Sweet Corn seed can be sown in warm conditions at this time so that plants will be ready for planting outside in early summer. Picked fresh, cooked and dripping with butter – well worth the wait!
Broad Beans sown in modules or pots can be transplanted into the vegetable garden border if the soil has warmed and is not wet and heavy.
Cabbages, Sprouts and Leeks
Summer/Autumn cabbages, brussels sprouts and leeks can be sown in seedbeds ready for transplanting later.
Carrots and Lettuce
Carrot and lettuce seed can be sown on a regular basis. Sow a few lettuce seed at regular intervals to ensure a good succession and try sowing carrots in scattered blocks rather than regimented rows.
Herb cuttings from last summer that were potted up which are now well-rooted can be potted up separately.
Growing Vegetables for Beginners – Seed to Sow in April
The following vegetable seeds can be sown in April in a well prepared seed bed.
- Kohl Rabi
- Perpetual Spinach
- Pickling Onions
- Spring Onions
- Sprouting Broccoli
- Summer Cauliflower
- Swiss Chard
The rows of germinated seedlings should be thinned out when large enough to handle.
If growing seeds of the following it is best to sow the seeds in a frost free greenhouse or on a warm windowsill in the house:
- Globe Artichokes
- Sweet Peppers
Growing Vegetables for Beginners – Vegetable Crops to Harvest in April
Some spring vegetables, especially those protected by horticultural fleece or grown under cloches, will be ready to harvest. In other cases the last of the winter vegetables will be ready to eat this month.
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Spring Cabbages
- Spring Cauliflowers
- Spring Onions
- Sprouting Broccoli
- Winter Salads
Growing Vegetables for Beginners – Pests to Look Out for in April
Protect both stored vegetables and newly sown, especially those under cloches and fleece, from mice.
As ever, beware of slug as they also enjoy the fresh spring greens.
A flock of Pigeons can strip your brassicas before you know what has happened. They can destroy a crop so protect using your favoured method, netting, fleece or perhaps recycled CDs or DVDs swinging in the breeze.
Growing Vegetables for Beginners – Other April Jobs
Keep your greenhouse and staging as clean as possible. The damp conditions from watering combined with warmth (and maybe lack of ventilation) can result in moulds.
The same cleanliness is required if you are lucky enough to have space for a dedicated vegetable store.
Take any yellowing leaves off brassicas as soon as they are seen which will prevent the spread of grey mould and brassica downy mildew. Remember that these leaves should not be composted as the normal domestic compost bin or heap does not reach a high enough temperature to kill the spores.
Vegetable Garden Maintenance
Weeds will also be growing as the temperatures rise and growing conditions become ideal. Keep your hoe sharpened and busy between rows of vegetable plants to keep on top of the task.
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