GARDENA tips for your garden
Sowing seeds: April is the perfect time to sow seeds. By now, the following vegetables should have already been planted: Peas, carrots, cabbages, leeks, Swiss chard, radishes (spring varieties), rocket, lettuces (spring varieties), celery and root parsley. You can also plant garlic and onions this month.
Replanting for a fraction of the cost: Many shrubs are only available as expensive pot plants in nurseries or garden centres. But there are alternatives: "Bare root plants" cost around a third of the price, especially when it comes to hedge plants, roses and fruit trees. However, all bare root plants should be planted by the end of April — depending on the weather. The following rule applies: the warmer the weather, the sooner you should plant them.
Cleaning gutters: Oak, beech, hornbeam: Some trees do not lose their leaves until after each new growth. And if they're blown away by the spring winds, they may land on roofs or in gutters. It's better to clean your gutters now to prevent them from becoming filled with humus or clogging and preventing the water reaching the downpipe. Speaking of the downpipe: Have you ever considered installing a diverter so you can collect the rainwater? It'll definitely come in useful in summer!
Cleaning surfaces: Over autumn and winter, the seeds of some grasses, herbs and even shrubs may have accumulated in the grout and cracks in your pavers, which may now begin to germinate. As the use of herbicides in domestic gardens is not permitted, we recommend keeping these at bay using mechanical means, such as patio weeders and grout brushes. The easiest way to remove algae and moss from your decking is using a pressure washer — before the unwanted greenery makes your walkways slippery.
Garden birds: Many of your feathered friends have already started breeding this month. By providing bird feeders, fat balls and mixed feed, you can help birds find food during the winter and raise more offspring. Unlike during the winter season, birds are now active from sunrise to sunset so that they can feed both themselves and their many young. Special rearing feed is available to help the older birds care for their nestlings.
Cutting back shrubs: You shouldn't be cutting back most garden shrubs at this time of year. For hedges and wild shrubs, the cut-off point is the end of March. However, these rules do not apply to subshrubs, i.e. shrubs that lignify at the bottom but remain herbaceous at the top. Lavender, blue spiraea, heather, thyme and winter savory are all classed as subshrubs. Gather these plants in one hand and cut them back by 30 to 50% in mid-April. This stimulates vigorous growth. Be careful when it comes to old plants that have not been cut back in a while: They often cannot tolerate being cut back to the old wood.
Container plants: Our lovely container plants have been in their winter home for long enough! It's time to start getting them used to the outdoor climate again. Place them in a sheltered spot in the garden during a continually frost-free period. It's best to place them somewhere warm and partially shaded to avoid the sun burning their leaves. Placing your plants on a container trolley makes it easier to wheel them inside for a short time if it looks like it's going to be frosty.
Planting in a small greenhouse: Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, aubergines — they all can be planted in a protective small greenhouse now so that you can harvest them earlier. Installing a frost buster greenhouse heater on critical nights means the delicate vegetable plants are protected from any late frosts. You can choose between various models, including electric or paraffin-heated.
Rhubarb: Vigorously fertilising your rhubarb in April will mean more vigorous stalks of rhubarb for harvest in May. The best way to do this is using a mix of organic and mineral fertiliser. The organic fertiliser cultivates the soil, while the mineral fertiliser will be available for the plants earlier. If you use a purely organic fertiliser for rhubarb in April, which is often still cold and wet, it often takes too long to decompose to the point at which the plants can use it.
Stone work: Rough gardening work such as stone work usually means intervening in neighbouring beds. Broken pavers, frozen curb stones, uneven clinker paving — it's high time to get them sorted before the beds are revitalised. The later you leave interventions and repairs, the longer it takes for the "scars" to heal in the beds.