Never cast a clout ‘til May is out! We all know how fickle the UK weather is and how careful you have to be at this time of year.
There are some easy ways to protect your plants however and it’s worth it to get everything off to a good start. By now you should have some nice seedlings in the greenhouse and maybe some new plants from the nursery so you should be careful to protect these from any temperature falls and frosts. Check how hardy your new plants are and ensure that you harden off your young plants by keeping them in a cold frame until the end of the month, or by leaving them outside for a few hours each day before you plant them out. You can also cover any vulnerable plants with some horticultural fleece or even bubble wrap to protect them overnight if you think there may be a frost.
Vigilance is the key!
Sowing and Planting
Prepare your seedbeds so that when you are ready to sow, they are too!
Summer flowering tubers and bulbs can also be planted into their containers or borders. Begonia tubers, kept in boxes of compost, should now be starting to sprout shoots and these can be planted out later this month also.
If you are growing vegetables, your first early, second early and maincrop potatoes should be chitting and ready for planting out this month. As the shoots grow, earth them up.
Other vegetable crops can be started off by direct sowing this month.
Sow annual climbers in pots (sweet peas and nasturtiums etc.)
Pruning and plant management
You can still divide perennials this month.
If you have not already pruned old flowerheads from your hydrangeas – do it now and the garden will look better immediately!
Once your spring-flowering shrubs have flowered, prune them to promote new growth and flowers next year.
Watch climbers for new growth that needs tying in to assist in shaping them and preventing breakages.
Some early rhubarb may be ready to pull, and if you have forced rhubarb under a bin, you will definitely have tender stems to eat.
If you have been bringing on broadbeans in the greenhouse, you can place them outdoors now, and you can also sow them direct this month.
Any early – sown vegetable seedlings that are at manageable size should be pricked-out and potted up, like the leeks in the photograph above. That applies to all seedlings that have grown their true leaves (the second leaves) and are large enough to handle.
Maintenance and Planning
It’s a good idea to get the hoe onto your planting beds and start taking the tops off any small weedlings that are starting to appear.
If you have not cleaned up your pots – do this now, scraping the top surfaces and dressing them with fresh compost.
Feed your lawn at the end of the end of the month, and you can start to mow it on dry days.
If you like pots and containers, there is a fantastic array of tender bedding plug plants available in the garden centres. Buy them early, plant up your pots and containers, but keep them in the greenhouse or garage (by a window) until May, when you will get the most out of them.