One of my favourite months of the year, everything coming back into life after a long Winter, it is one of the few months of the year that you get warm showers and sunshine at the same time, the showers never lasting very long. Spring is now finally in evidence as daffodils, flowers & trees start to bloom, but always be vigilant for that late frost.
Essential tasks this month, weeds; that old favourite, keep up the good work, clearing them as soon as possible, for once they run to seed you will have very many more to deal with, now is ideal as the ground, being moist they are easily pull out, or hoe’d out. Climbing roses, make sure these are all tied in nicely, an old trick with climbers is to have as many stems as possible trained horizontal, this way you get more buds and hence more flowers, while on the subject of roses, give these and shrubs a feed which they will benefit from throughout the Summer If your hostas are looking crowded in their pots, now is a good time to divide them, before leaf growth starts, also a good opportunity to refresh the soil in the pots adding a feed at the same time. Penstemons, cut these down to the base, or lowest two shoots to avoid them becoming too tall and “leggy”, the same applies to Winter flowering heathers but these just need a trim to tidy them up. Dead head daffodils & tulips as they finish flowering, as you want all the plant’s energy going back into feeding the bulb. If you have not already made a start, you can sow hardy annuals. Fig trees, this is a good time to give them a prune, cut out branches as required to improve the general shape of the tree, and in addition reducing the height of the tree, so that you may easily reach the fruit. Along with the general pruning cut out any suckers that have appeared from the ground. In addition, cut back one or two branches that have become too long or bare, to a two inch long stub, to stimulate new growth from the base of the old branch. Give the fig a top feed of growmore or blood fish & bone, but do not overfeed them as this can lead to excessive leaf growth at the expense of the fruit. On the subject of feeding if you have citrus trees now is the time to give them a specialized feed and at the end of the month they can go outside for some Summer sunshine. Fruit trees, at this time of year the blossoms are very vulnerable to frost damage, listen to the weather forecast each evening and cover them with horticultural fleece, if frost is forecast. Autumn sown sweet peas can now be planted out, tying them in as they grow, pinch out the growing tips for bushier plants, the same applies to fuchsias. In the vegetable garden continue digging in well rotted compost or manure, avoiding areas where you intend to grow root vegetables. Early sown carrots can now be thinned out, do this in the evening, as there are fewer carrot flies around at this time of day. Many main crops can now be sown direct into the ground, parsnips, cabbages & radishes. Give your raspberry canes a feed of a slow release fertiliser. In the greenhouse sow herbs such as dill, fennel, parsley & thyme. Marrows & courgettes can also be sown, for planting out next month, these plants are hungry feeders & like lots of water, I have found the best way to concentrate the feed & water is to grow them in large pots, plunged into the ground, keeping everything the plant wants in one place. If the soil is not too wet, you can get on planting out onion sets. Pot on earlier sown tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers & melons. A start can be made planting up your Summer flowering hanging baskets, keeping them growing on, under glass, until the threat of a late frost has passed. Lawns, this month is the right time to cut out bare patches, either putting in turf or re-seeding. On worn edges, simply cut out a square, replace worn side inner most, it will soon grow over, and you will not be able to see the join! On the subject of lawns, on dry days brush away the worm casts. And finally, pressure wash paths and paving, removing all the Winter algae.