Your Garden in April
"Autumn is a second spring
when every leaf is a flower." -
A month into autumn and you can
clearly see the change in season. The sun is taking longer to rise and is quicker
to set. It is time to adapt to longer
evenings and shorter days. One can also clearly feel the cooler evenings and
mornings as winter approaches. Your garden is also starting to feel the change in
season. Leaves are starting to drop and many are turning different shades of
red, yellow and orange in a magnificent display of autumn colours.
It is a good idea when leaves
start dropping to rake them into your flower beds. They can be used as mulch
which will create a protective layer on the ground, protecting plants’ roots
from those bitter cold evenings that are approaching. The mulch from Bark Unlimited helps retain
moisture in the soil which plants need to keep them going through periods
“Then my heart with pleasure
fills and dances with the daffodils” - William Wordsworth
Winter bulbs are now available
and many are planted from mid-April - Amaryllis, Anemone, Babiana, Freesia,
Daffodils, Ranunculus, Sparaxis and Dutch Irises to name a few. Your winter
garden does not have to look drab and boring, many bulbs will give a colourful display.
It is always important to feed your bulbs so that they grow into strong
flowering plants. Many people buy and plant bulbs which start growing but never
flower. The cause of this is usually not enough moisture and fertiliser. Use a
general fertiliser which will have all the various nutrients that will encourage
green growth and flowering such as Starke Ayres 3:1:5. Remember to plant the bulbs in well composted beds to prevent the bulbs from rotting.
In your vegetable garden, when it
comes to sowing seeds for winter crops, April would be a good time to do this
if you have not yet already done so. When
the temperature drops as we approach winter, seed will struggle to germinate. If
it is too cold then seed will not germinate. Seed also requires constant
moisture in order to germinate. Keeping the soil or growth medium moist at all
times is very necessary for seed germination success. Seed that can still be
planted in April if your area’s temperature is still warm enough, are broad
beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach and
Broad beans are a winter crop
which has become very popular in South Africa. It is relatively easy and a nutritious
plant to grow. It prefers cold winters and will usually do poorly in mild
winter areas. Broad beans are heavy feeders and will grow happily in a bed
which is well improved with compost and manure. Use an organic general fertiliser such as Gwano in the Nutrigreen range from Protek when you sow the seed, this will help with the root growth of the plant after the seed germinates and will not burn the seeds’ hairroots.
strong root system is always important when planting any plant. Broad beans
have an upright habit and can reach 1m in height. Sowing the seed closely in
double or triple rows, 15cm apart, and rows 25cm apart, will protect the plants
from winds and heavy rain and will prevent many plants from falling over. If
your vegetable garden is in the open you might have to provide support for your
beans. Once the plants start growing, it is important to keep the area clean
from weeds. Regular watering early in the morning is a must if you want success
with broad beans. Once the pods have set on the plant the growth points should
be removed to discourage aphids. Aphids usually attack broad beans and an
organic pesticide which contains Azadirachtin which comes from the neem tree
will deal with these annoying sucking pests. Bioneem in the Biogrow range from Talborne Organics will be a good example to use.
Feeding your garden plants in
April will strengthen and prepare them for the colder months ahead. A sudden
cold spell can harm plants that are sensitive to frost and cold temperatures.
Cold sensitive plants will recover quicker if they have been fed regularly with
a good organic fertiliser.
Pansies are in season again and
the colourful varieties will put a smile on your face, they are not shy to
bring joy and happiness to a garden which is otherwise readying itself for winter.
Feed them often with a 3:1:5 organic fertiliser from Efekto. It is the last number in the
formula which is potassium that helps with the fruit and flower of a plant.
Pansies need regular watering and look great in pots and in flower beds.
“There's Rosemary, that's for remembrance; Pray, love, remember; and there
is pansies, that's for thoughts.” - William Shakespeare