Jobs for April
April brings an intoxicating mix of delivery and promise that comes with the blossom on the trees, the green bursts in the hedges and the potting up of seeds for the kitchen garden. This is the month when soil starts to warm up making the ground welcoming for new plants and young vegetable seedlings. We start to get busy in the garden around about now and after such a cold and disappointing winter, we are looking forward to bringing some colour and life to the garden. Here is a list of the jobs we will be getting on with...
- Our sweet peas are coming along in the green house so now is the team to get supports up ready for planting out next month. We prefer to use hazel supports as they are more eco friendly and also they look prettier.
- We love getting a good work out by digging into our compost heap and applying a layer of organic mulch around the garden. Try to add a 10cm layer around each plant and also a nice dump in the kitchen garden and raised beds.
- Dig out all those weeds to ready the beds for new seeds.
- Feed raspberry canes, fruit bushes and fruit trees. By applying a slow-release fertiliser around their base you will get a good crop this season.
- Give the lawn its first mow. Don’t go too short to avoid scorching the grass. Neaten up the edges too to give the garden an instant lift.
Grow bags, pots or in the ground?
There’s nothing wrong with growing tomatoes in the ground at the foot of a warm wall or fence, or a sheltered row in the open if the soil has been well dug over and some old compost worked in to enrich it. Grown in the ground, spaced at 40cm, tomatoes could probably get away with no extra feeding, whereas in pots or grow bags liquid feeding is vital. The main advantage of grow bags is that they can be set on paving. If you are going for a pot, don’t plant in one smaller than a large bucket.
Mature tomato plants use a great deal of water, but fortunately it doesn’t look as if you will be swanning off for weekends in July this year (UK only obviously!), so that’s a problem solved. When you place your plants in the soil, try to set your young plant in a raised crater that is about 40cm wide, so that every time you water in summer you can make a puddle that will really soak into the roots and not run away to the sides. The same applies if you are planting in a pot or grow bag: make a crater in the compost to receive your plant.
Evenness of watering is very important when it comes to growing tomatoes. Waterlogging, especially at the neck of the plant, soon turns the plant yellow. Regular drying out and rehydration will cause the fruit to split. Both of these problems are more likely to occur when you are growing your plants in grow bags, where you have to be careful not to drown the roots, whereas the joy of growing tomatoes in the ground is that on a hot day you can just stick a hose on them for a good evening soaking.
Grow bags and pots filled with compost contain enough food for the first four to five weeks. Thereafter you must give them a fortnightly high-potash liquid tomato feed to build up the fruit. If they’re growing straight in the ground, feeding won’t go amiss, but you can get away without it unless your soil is very poor.