Jobs To Do Now

Jobs to do this month

April is probably the busiest month of the year. Last year, spring was early and warm, so crops started off well, but then a sharp late frost caught us out. So far this year spring has been cold and wet, and everything has been delayed, but the soil should start to warm up soon (although there’s still a good chance of the occasional frost), and when it does we can start sowing direct into the soil.

This list isn’t exhaustive. You can get detailed advice from many organisations, especially those listed on this website under Useful sources of help and advice.

General care

  • Look out for slugs.
  • Keep weeds under control before they get established.

Fruit

  • Plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes.
  • Start pulling rhubarb. If rhubarb crowns have been forced, feed with a granular fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone.
  • Use a high-potash fertiliser to feed soft fruit crops coming into flower this month. If frost is likely, protect blossom at night with a layer of fleece.
  • Mulch round the base of soft fruit plants.
  • Spray gooseberries with fungicide to protect against mildew.
  • Control woolly aphid on fruit trees by washing off with water spray.
  • Apply apple and pear scab controls.
  • Start feeding citrus plants.
  • Prune fig trees.

Vegetables

  • Sow beetroot, carrots, chard, summer cauliflower, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks, parsnips, peas, spring onions, radish and turnips outside in well-prepared soil.
  • Sow broad beans outside, for a crop in June and July.
  • Sow salad leaves in large pots or trays on a windowsill, or in a greenhouse.
  • Still time to sow tomato seeds.
  • Sow runner bean seeds in pots or rootrainers.
  • Sow cucumbers, courgettes, sweetcorn and runner beans in the greenhouse for planting out later.
  • Sow winter veg (e.g. brassicas, celery and celeriac) for planting out next month.
  • Harden off seed-raised plants.
  • Thin out rows of seedlings. For carrots and parsnips, snip off unwanted seedlings; don’t pull them, because this encourages the remaining plants to fork.
  • Prick out tomato, aubergine and pepper seedlings in 8cm pots of multipurpose compost.
  • Finish planting maincrop potatoes.
  • Plant shallots, onion sets and garlic.
  • Plant asparagus crowns.
  • Plant out lettuce seedlings.
  • Plant out pot-sown broad beans.
  • Make sure autumn-planted garlic doesn’t dry out.
  • Plant Jerusalem and globe artichokes.
  • Plant out hardened-off brassica plants.
  • Dig your runner bean trench and get the supports in place, ready for next month.
  • Harvest asparagus, spring cabbages and cauliflowers, overwintered lettuce, kale and sprouting broccoli.