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Welcome to the CountryLife Gardening Blog, written by our horticulturists
to provide you with the best tips & advice for all things gardening! 

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April in the Garden

by User Not Found | Mar 31, 2014

Spring is finally here in its full glory and everything around us is coming to life. Finally you get to spend more time in the garden enjoying the weather but mind you don’t get too relaxed as there is plenty of work to be done.

In the Kitchen Garden
Sow your vegetables. Now it’s time to sow peas, broad beans, brassicas, leeks, root veg, spinach, chicory, Swiss chard, salad and hardy herbs. You can get a headstart by planting ready to go plants available now from our Countrylife branches. In order to have a regular supply of salad crops for picking start sowing them now at regular 3-4 week intervals. Watch new plants for slugs and put down slug pellets in small regular amounts.

Around the garden
Roses will need your attention, they are prone to diseases such as mildew, rust and blackspot once the leaves come out. To prevent an infection spray the leaves of the roses with fungicide like Roseclear Ultra. Remove any debris from around the plants and feed with a good rose food every two months.
Pick off the deadheads off spring bulbs. All plants will benefit from having the dying flowers removed as soon as they begin to fade. It stops them putting energy into forming seed and encourages the plant to produce more flowers. However don’t cut down the green parts of the plants such as stems and leaves, these need to die back naturally to produce good flowers for next year. 
Feeding time. Give acid-loving shrubs a generous feed with acidic (ericaceous) fertiliser. You will also need to feed your hungry strawberries with a weak solution of tomato fertiliser which is high in potassium. Remember that feeding with a nitrogen rich feed will only encourage leaf growth.
Prune evergreens such as rosemary, bay, lavender, sage, thyme and myrtle. Never cut into old wood and always leave enough foliage to help draw energy back into the limbs.

Planning Summer Colour
Sow seeds of hardy annual flowers directly into beds towards the end of the month but if the weather is still cold start them indoors until conditions improve. Bedding plants will be available in all Countrylife branches from mid-April. Planting these early means you get a headstart on the season. But be careful to protect from frost until the start of May. Plant out perennials in groups of odd numbers - three, five or seven. We use this as a rule of thumb for all our planting as it gives the finished effect a better overall design.

Lawn Care
It’s time to bring your lawn to life. Cut your grass as your lawn will require regular mowing from now on. Let’s start the battle with weeds before they establish long roots. Treat with lawn weed killer which kills the weeds but not the grass. If moss is a problem treat the lawn with sulphate of iron, rake out the lawn once the moss is dead and then feed with a good lawn feed such as Aftercut. If you don’t have time for all that work Evergreen Complete will do the three jobs for you. It treats for weeds, moss and it feeds the lawn all at the same time. It’s also a good time to re-seed the bald patches on your lawn as
Tip: Start grasscycling. By leaving grass clippings on the lawn when mowing during the season you are giving your grass the same level of nutrients as one fertiliser application per year. Your grass clippings contain 80% - 85% water, they will decompose quickly returning all valuable nutrients like nitrogen into the soil.

In the Greenhouse/Polytunnel
It’s still a little bit cold to plant out tomatoes, peppers etc but if you do plant them out in the greenhouse or tunnel protect them at night with plant protection fleece until the start of May. You can still sow greenhouse plants form seed on a warm windowsill and wait for them to grow big enough to plant out. Plants are also available from our Countrylife branches.

Jean’s Bio 
Hi my name is Jean, I am a horticulturist with CountryLife in the Ashford branch. I grew up on a farm where we always had a veg garden, so you could say that horticulture and agriculture is in the blood! I studied Landscape Horticulture in UCD and worked part-time in Fernhill Garden Centre, Athlone while I was in college. After graduating I worked in Landscape Architecture for three years before returning to the Garden Centre trade. I began in Keane’s Garden Centre, Kilcolgan, Co Galway and returned to Fernhill Garden Centre for three years before joining CountryLife. 
Being a horticulturalist is a great job, you are surrounded by nature every day and there is always something to be done. Meeting customers and giving the advice is very rewarding especially when they report back positive results. I love growing my own fruit and veg and I’m always trying new varieties and ways of growing. The seasons are always changing and while the weather is challenging in Ireland, I believe we grow the best produce in the world.