Gardening Tips

Oodles of activity! Grow how tips for early April


It’s Easter weekend – wow, that’s come up fast, hasn’t it! The gardens about to go into overdrive, and you might have to, as well!

There are barely enough hours in the day for all the jobs that need attention, so let’s get on with spreading fertiliser, mulching, and planting potatoes for starters…

A lot of goodness will have been washed out of the soil this winter and this is a great time to spread some general fertiliser on your beds and borders to compensate for that.  There are some essential nutrients that all plants need (tea and Whole Nut mostly do it for me, but most plants are slightly fussier……), in particular they need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the so-called macronutrients. Without them, your plants will be spindly, rather flowerless specimens that look in need of a good meal.

Spreading fertiliser on the soil will pay dividends

I like to get out there with a general fertiliser like blood, fish and bone and spread it around the beds in spring, which slowly release goodies through the whole growing season to keep the plants in fine fettle.

It’s been so wet for so long! But the balance of weather being what it is, we are probably going to get some extremely dry weeks coming up soon, and then you might be very glad that you sealed the damp into your borders with a mulch.

I usually use garden compost as much as I can, but there are a wide range of other materials you could use – chipped bark, leaf mound, crushed shells, even gravel or grit for alpines. 

Spread some marvellous mulch for all sorts of reasons………….

This ‘carpet’ will protect your soil from drying out in the summer, lessening the need for watering, as well as cutting down massively on the weeding.

Don’t be stingy with it – 2 to 3 inches is the recommended depth – but try not to pile it up closely round the stems or trunks of shrubs and trees, which can lead to fungal diseases creeping in. It’s not something you can do with annual borders, but it looks great on practically anything else…..neat, health-giving and labour-saving, what more could you want?

Some gardeners always plant their seed potatoes at Easter, even when it’s as early as it is this year.

Easter is a very popular time to get your seed potatoes in the ground

Here’s how to do it. A nice sunny spot is best, though they can tolerate a bit of shade. The thing to remember is that potatoes will take about four weeks before they appear above ground, and even a touch of frost can damage the foliage. A severe frost can kill them completely. You know when the danger of frost is over in your area (it’s probably blooming July where Caroline is, in the wilds of Scotland!), so plant your spuds four weeks earlier than that. (FYI, the average for the UK is the end of April, so plant the spuds at the end of March. It’s not an exact science – as I said earlier, some gardeners always plant their potatoes on Easter Sunday, whenever that may fall).

In your veg bed, make shallow trenches 1foot (30cm) apart, and put your seed potatoes 1 foot (30cm) apart along the bottom of the trench. Cover them with soil, and water along the trench.

Plant your seed potatoes about a month before you expect the danger of frost to end

Now here’s a wonderful thing for everyone who has only the tiniest space to grow something to eat. You can grow spuds in all sorts of containers as well – big pots, specialised potato-bags, Bags-For-Life from supermarkets, in an old plastic compost bag with the top chopped off and most of the compost taken out, make a bag by stapling together weed-suppressing fabric……..

Spuds sprouting happily in a bag, keeping burying the sprouts to encourage more new potatoes to form

You just need to make sure that whatever you use has some drainage holes punched in the bottom, and away you go. I would say that a maximum of three seed potatoes would be right for these sorts of container. Fill your container with just enough compost to cover the top of the tubers. All you have to do then, is keep them evenly moist, and cover up the sprouting green foliage with compost as it grows up.

  • We are delighted this week to have a beautiful piece about one of my absolute favourites for the early summer garden, hardy geraniums. It’s written by Suzie Dewey, the owner of the fabulous Hardy Geranium Nursery. She opened the nursery in 2018 and runs it with the help of her dog Dillon. The link is at the bottom, and I guarantee that you’ll want every one that she mentions!
Geranium Lakwijk-Star
  • If you have enough space, do think about sowing more seeds of your favourite flowers and veg right through the spring. This successional sowing, as it is called, will ensure that you are enjoying the results for a far longer period through the summer and autumn and even early winter.
Keep sowing seeds for a continuous harvest
  • It’s prime daffodil time! Look at the lovely hoop daffodils that we’ve chosen for our feature pic for Easter! When the flowers finish, take off the dead flowers before they start forming seed heads, give the plants a foliar feed to boost their bulbs for next year’s display, and let the leaves die down naturally.
  • What a lovesome thing a beautiful wildflower patch is! This is the time to get preparing the ground and sowing your own, and Laura has all the info on how to sow a very particular Pictorial Meadow
  • Check out her video and blog post at the end.
Wildflower meadow
This is the time to sow a wildflower patch of your own
  • We mentioned last week that one of the important spring tasks is to get your plant supports in place before they (the plants) start shooting all over the place. It’s much, much more cost effective to make them yourself using builders’ bars, and it’s something we’ve done here for years.
Save money by making your own plant supports

Our columnist Louise and her husband make a little video of how they did exactly that.

And still talking about Louise, look at this bewitching little plant that will steal your heart away, which is her Great Plant of the Month:

N.B. Here is the smashing article about hardy geraniums, and this is the link to their nursery.

We’ve got a great Easter offer on our garden tools, gifts, books and cards. We’re offering free P&P on all orders over £30. Do hurry though, the offer will close on 5 April.

More N.B. Many congratulations to the winners of our recent free draw for garden snips in a holster – we hope that Margaret Gallagher and Janet Rolph have many hours of pleasure using them!

Even More N.B. This is Laura’s video on how to sow a lovely Pictorial Meadow and a blog post on the same subject here.

And the final NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

4 replies on “Oodles of activity! Grow how tips for early April”

Maggie we’re so sorry, you’re right the link in the post was missing. It’s in now, so please do click away. Thankfully it was in the newsletter and it looks as though lots of you have enjoyed reading it! Thanks very much for flagging this Maggie – it was very helpful to have caught this early. Kindest regards

Hello Sue, one of the assets of a Pictorial Meadow is that it doesn’t need such a rarefied environment as a traditional wild flower meadow and actually thrives in richer soil. We grew ours on our old soft fruit patch and it was much thicker in the places where we had added manure to the raspberry canes. You do need to get rid of the weed seed bank though, which would smother the young meadow plants if it wasn’t dealt with first. Hope this is helpful, best wishes Laura

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