April’s the month to start preparing for summer salads, as lettuce, kale and spinach are all ready to go in the ground. Lettuce will be good to go in a couple of months while kale takes a little longer, and spinach can be harvested continually once the leaves are out.
You can grow lettuce in any moisture retentive soil, and even use containers or grow bags if that’s your veg style. Kale goes into a deep seed bed, close together to start with then double the space between them once they’ve got a bit of growth on them. Be prepared to eat loads of kale when it’s harvest time! For spinach, treat similarly then harvest every other plant first, before harvesting the rest a few weeks later.
Carrots and parsnips
Root vegetables are good to get in in April, giving them the maximum amount of time to soak up the soil’s goodness by the time harvest rolls around. Carrots take three to four months to grow, while parsnips are around twice that. Check on them often with a little dig around the base of the leaves when they appear, and harvest as soon as they’re big enough to use. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better flavour, and big leaves often mean small veg (as they used their energy on growing above the soil instead of below). Keep an eye out for pests!
Cabbages and Cauliflower
Two brassicas are April planters, and both can be grown and harvested throughout the year if you mix up your types. If you’re clever (and have a big enough patch) you can every have veg to harvest every day of the year, but we’re focussed on planting here. You don’t want to plant them where you’ve planted in a previous year to avoid spreading brassica diseases, but both do well in open ground. 60cm apart will do you well, though you can start closer together if you’re willing to get in and space them out once they get to seedling stage.
With the weather beginning to warm now is a great time to introduce plants to your pond. The warmer temperatures will give them plenty of time to establish. Try not to delay too much between purchasing and planting these as drying them out can be damaging. Plant into mesh containers and fill with aquatic compost before submerging. Be sure to include some oxygenating plants like Hornwort to help keep the water clear.
Getting plants into your garden beds now will ensure you have a beautiful display come summer. Plants like Digitalis or Campanula are perfect plants for spring and for adding colour to your garden whilst also being a great source of pollen for bees and butterflies. Water new plants regularly to help them get established and give an extra helping hand with occasional top-ups of organic compost or well-rotted manure.
Dahlias, Gladioli and Peonies are all perfect summer bulbs for getting in the ground now in preparation for summer. Make sure they get a sunny position in the garden with some well-drained soil. Planting across a number of weeks will give your garden a procession of flowers emerging one after the other so you can enjoy continuous colour outside for the season.
Climbing plants are a great way to update a space and bring new life to areas of your garden. They can be used to cover trellis or pergolas in characterful blooms or serve a practical purpose of transforming unsightly walls or buildings. They’re also a great asset for smaller gardens where space is a premium and growing vertically make the most use of available space. Plants such as clematis, honeysuckle and Ipomoea are all great varieties to try sowing.
One of the best ways to step up your garden game is to plant for all of the senses. You don’t want to limit the enjoyment of your garden to just what you see – think about your other senses, in particular, what you can smell. Nicotiana has a delightful fragrance that is very enjoyable on summer evenings. Plant these in March and April to enjoy when summer rolls around.
Instantly recognisable with luscious scent and colour, poppies will always bring delight to your garden. They can be sown from March to May in time for blooms in summer and autumn – a great plant for creating lasting colour with variations of interest.
Scott Roberts is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.