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Your Garden in April


"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower." -  Albert Camus

 

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 without rain.

 

“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 turnip.


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. 


Having a 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


Happy Gardening,

Russel Davidson

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