April is a great month for loads of things; decorating Easter eggs, scoffing hot cross buns, heading outside for the first adventures of the year and trying out new crafts – but anyone who’s got even slightly green fingers will know that April is the magic month for gardeners. Sure, by now we’ve seen the snowdrops and the crocuses pop up, but April is the month that things really get going – the last frosts have been and gone (well, probably – this is the UK!), and it’s the month that you can start finally deciding what’s going to grow where.
A lot of people get organised around February, but I’m as forward-thinking in the garden as I am in the kitchen (i.e; not at all), so it’s about this time that I start getting everything together – these are my top tips for getting your garden off to a flying start in spring.
Make a Plan
By now, you’ll probably have already bought your seeds (I get a bit overexcited pretty much the week after Christmas, and order loads online then), but if you haven’t, it’s not too late. For flowers I usually order from Higgledy Garden, and then head over to Allotinabox and Real Seeds for vegetables – it took a couple of years, but I found these were by far the best quality seeds, and Real Seeds has the most amazing selection.
Decide in advance what is going to go where – I always try to do a bit of companion planting, as I like the garden to look a bit more natural; nasturtiums in with the beans and peas, marigolds in with the tomatoes and so on. Do remember though that making a plan doesn’t automatically mean you have to stick to it!
Prepare the Soil
If you don’t know what type of soil you’ve got, now is the best time to find out – good soil is the basis for great plants, and it’s far easier to fix any problems before you plant your flowers and veg out. Our soil is really unmanageable clay, which is difficult to maintain and has terrible drainage, so I tend to plant most things in pots, and then scatter wild flowers seeds around the borders. Whether you’re planting in a pot or straight into the garden, dig through plenty of good quality (peat free!) compost and a little horse manure and you’ll be set – and if you are using pots, don’t forget to add the layer of shingle to help with drainage.
Get a Greenhouse
I’ve got one of those little plastic ones from Wilkinsons, and while they might not have space for a nice chair or a proper potting table, I honestly think using one was the secret to my vegetable success last year. Even the smallest greenhouse will make such a difference; not only is it somewhere to harden off seedlings and keep young plants until they’re strong enough to survive against the pests, but it’s also somewhere handy to keep your pots and trowel if you don’t have a shed – I really can’t recommend them enough!
Think about Decoration
Quite a lot of people like garden ornaments, from the traditional garden gnome to slightly quirkier statues and sculptures (Co-operative Insurance recently compiled a list of the most eclectic must-see ornaments across the world, which are definitely different!), but we don’t really have the space – I do like those solar lanterns you can buy, though, and this year I’m planning on brightening up the fences with a few oilcloth garland-y things. Towards the end of the summer last year, we found some old wicker-style chairs outside someones house, so this year I’m planning on varnishing them ready to be used, and then hopefully finding a table to go with them for those balmy outdoor summer dinners. Lovely!
This is a collaborative post.