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What to do in April

Spring is finally here. It's an exciting month at Springvale Community Garden, with indoor-sown seeds well into growth and it's also time to start sowing outdoors. We’ll have sunshine and showers but just watch out for frosts.

Vegetable growing really takes off this month. Here are some top jobs that our volunteers will be busy with during April.

  • Chit and plant out second early potatoes in the first half of the month, maincrop potatoes in the second half.
  • Sow seed outdoors for beetroot, carrots, Swiss chard, summer cauliflower, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring and pickling onions, peas and perpetual spinach in well-prepared soil.
  • Sow seed indoors for marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. Also sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, celeriac and salads.
  • If April is unusually warm (we can always hope!) you can try sowing dwarf French beans and sweet corn outside under cloches or fleece at the end of April. We usually wait until May when we also start our runner beans.
  • Sow brassicas indoors to provide transplants of sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers and cabbages for planting out in June or July.
  • Transplant broad beans grown in pots. We’ll be transplanting the plants sown by schoolchildren when they came to Garden in February.
  • Plant shallots, onion sets and garlic.
  • Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.
  • Plant asparagus crowns.
  • Pot up tomato seedlings when they develop true leaves above the more rounded seed leaves.
  • Keep on top of weeds and deal with any pests like aphids and spider mites. Watch out for mildew on gooseberries.
  • It’s a good time to put potash around the soft fruits.

Top money saving tip

Why not make use of the nettles or comfrey that are young and green in April? They make great plant food. Nettles have more nitrogen but less potash, so you can use them to make a feed for leafy greens; or use nettles and comfrey for a balanced feed. Comfrey on its own is good for feeding tomatoes.

Recipe:

  1. Pick your leaves.
  2. Then crush them.
  3. Immerse in a bucket of water and weigh down the leaves. A brick and some mesh is ideal..
  4. Leave to brew. After around three or four weeks the liquid should be ready for use. Warning! It’s a bit smelly.
  5. Dilute to use.The mixture should be diluted until it is tea coloured - usually around 1 part liquid to 10 parts water.
  6. Repeat until winter. Continue to top up your container with more leaves and water through the year.

Happy gardening and we look forward to seeing you at Springvale community garden soon.

What to do in June

Just when you thought you could sit back and relax and enjoy the sunshine, June and July is a busy time in the garden. It’s also a lovely time as you enjoy the fruits, flowers and vegetables of your labours.

The big job is watering to prevent your plants drying out. Baskets and pots will need daily watering. Even fruit trees need plenty of water Remember to add some organic liquid feed every few weeks. At Springvale we make liquid feed with comfrey and with nettles. Strip off the leaves, put them in water and leave them for about 3 weeks. Use it diluted with water 10/1. It smells disgusting but the plants love it. Comfrey gives a good potash feed for fruit, tomatoes, potatoes and flowers. Nettles give nitrogen for leaves so leafy vegetables love it. All this for free! It’s great to leave a little spot for the nettles.They are the main food for the comma, tortoiseshell, painted lady and red admiral, our native butterflies.

Plant out your brassicas from pots - broccoli, calabrese, brussel sprouts and cabbage. If you haven’t already planted your leek seedlings do this as well. Just dib a hole about 150mm 6" deep and drop the leek into the hole. Water it in and the job's done. Some folks advise trimming the roots and tops but others say it doesn’t make any difference. Why make extra work?

If you have a greenhouse, ensure good ventilation. It can get incredibly hot with strong sun and scorch your plants. Consider shading either with blinds or films or with a shading wash.

Keep pinching the side shoots off your tomatoes and keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, whitefly and red spider mite.

You can keep sowing in June and July, spring cabbage, chicory, chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, french beans, beetroot, carrots, radishes and lettuces. In fact just check on the seed packets. Many can be sown until quite late.

Take softwood cuttings from hydrangea, hebe, lavender and other shrubs. Divide your primula and primroses.