Gardening Tips - April
In The Greenhouse by Sheila Johnson
(Technical Assistant, Parks & Countryside Services, Manor Road Nurseries)
No matter how long you garden for, spring time is always exciting, seeing germinating seedlings pushing through. Now is the time to be sowing half hardy annuals such as lobelia and petunia under glass or on a warm windowsill.
Seedlings that were sown in March will need pricking out into pots of fresh compost before they get too leggy in the seed tray. Leggy seedlings which are overcrowded and too wet are prone to death by "damping off", a fungal disease, which will race through the tray before you are probably even aware that it is there. So, ventilate the greenhouse on warm days and get as much air circulating as possible. On the other hand, April weather has a habit of being unpredictable and we could get some very hot days which will burn young seedlings in a flash. If this is likely to happen protect young plants with a thin sheet of newspaper.
Always leave the greenhouse watering can filled up ready for the next watering so that its temperature can adjust and you are not watering precious seedlings with icy water straight from the tap. Also, wash all the greenhouse windows down now so that every scrap of spring light is maximised.
Don't be fooled by warm spring temperatures that may happen at this time of the year. Welcome though they are, it is far too soon to be thinking of putting tender annuals out in the garden. Keep them indoors until at least mid-May when you can take another look at the weather and then decide whether or not to put them out.