- Now is a good time to check on houseplants and throw away any that are too sickly or have succumbed to pests or diseases. Aphids, mites and hard shelled scale plague bay tree leaves when they are inside and their honeydew causes sooty mould. Mine were decimated by this despite spraying them with a strong blast of water and following by a treatment of insecticidal soap. The blackened leaves have now fallen off and fresh new growth is emerging so all is not lost.
- Check also to see if houseplants remaining need to be repotted. Take outside and turn the pots over and bang out the rootball. If the roots are a winding white mass that circle around they need a larger pot. Untangle the roots before you replant to make sure they do not stay root bound in their new home. If you have to remove masses of roots, compensate by pruning off some foliage.
- It's really too late to sow peas, but because of our cold miserable spring I'm sowing a couple more rows - use a heat-tolerant variety if you're tempted to do this.
- Plant out brassica seedlings by the end of the month so they can mature before the hot weather.
- Continue to plant lettuce
- Rhubarb is now sprouting. Remove flowers heads that appear immediately to stop the plant producing seed. If they do go to seed the edible stalks are significantly weakened and will be unlikely to recover to full strength.
- The end of April is the time to fertilise the rose bushes with at least a 1/3cup of slow-release fertiliser. Work it lightly into the soil around the bushes and then cover with about 2" of shredded leaves, compost or other organic mulch.
- Once the soil warms it is an ideal time to plant shrubs and trees - both container grown and bare root. Check to make sure they are not planted too deeply in the pot - they should never be planted deeper than in the newly dug hole than they were planted previously but sometimes it is necessary to raise them slightly hire if you do not see the flare of the tree trunk when planting. Now is the time UPS is constantly leaving nursery packages by the garage door. Unwrap plants immediately, remove all packing materials and soak the plants roots for seveal hours before planting.
- Check all vines, climbing roses and espaliered shrubs and make sure they are securely tied onto trellises and supports before their growth really kicks in.
- When daffodil blooms fade it is always tempting to tie up the ratty looking leaves - or even worse cut them to the ground. It may look neat but is really not healthy for the bulb as it restricts the amount of nutrients they can store for next years flowers. Best to close your eyes to them and let the leaves fade to yellow and die and then remove only when brown and no longer productive.
- With the exception of spring blooming perennials such as bleeding hearts there is still time to divide and replant perennials in the garden.
- Once the last forsythia flowers fade it is time to prune. I don't love the hard haircuts some are given, they are such wanton hussies in the garden I think they suit a more natural look and far prefer removing the old canes from the base to encourage new growth and maintain their wild exuberance.
Easter, and another sunny day with temperatures in the 60s and heading into the 70s next week.