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Mortimer Gardening Club - What to do in the Garden in April

April is the busiest time in the garden, but don’t panic, take things one step at a time and you’ll get it all done. It’s important to take a few moments to sit in the sun, listen to the birds, and admire any colour you have in the garden. Make a note of any gaps in your spring planting to order any bulbs in the autumn for next year.

Start to direct sow hardy annuals, eg marigolds, poppies, dill, cerinthe, nigella, etc.

Harden off seedlings that have been started off indoors on warm still days. Place them outside during the day, but take them in again late afternoon, and do this for about a week or so. This way they will get used to the cooler conditions before being planted outside. Start planting out half-hardies, eg cosmos, in sheltered spots at end of the month.

Sow perennials – these could include hollyhocks, delphiniums, Linaria purpurea 'Canon Went' and echinaceas. Fill a seed tray with peat-free compost and dampen with water. Sow seeds spaced at least an inch apart in a grid across the compost surface. Then scatter (or sieve) a fine covering of compost over the seeds. You don't need to water again immediately. Place in a light, cool spot, eg a window ledge or, if you have one, in a propagator in a cold frame, greenhouse or polytunnel with basal heat.

Later in the month, thin out hardy annuals sown in drifts or rows to allow plants to reach optimum size.

Pot cuttings of tender perennials, eg pelargoniums, arctotis, verbenas, penstemons and argyranthemums, taken late last summer or autumn. They'll be well rooted now and will benefit from some fresh compost and more space for root formation before planting in their summer position.

Plant out sweet peas – two plants to each upright. Dig a good, deep hole and fill the base with farmyard manure. Tie them in to the base of the arch or frame and water them in well.

Create new plants from last year’s pelargoniums – take cuttings now and they’ll be ready to be replanted in a couple of months and be in full flower in four.

If you have bought dahlia tubers, now is the time to get them potted up. Follow  instructions carefully and you will have wonderful flowers to cut all through the summer months.  Finish planting summer-flowering bulbs.

Please join us for our next meeting on 24th April.  John Negus talk on ‘Summers Bounty’.