Jobs in the fruit and vegetable garden during April

Sowing and planting

Fruit

  • Ideal time to plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes.

Vegetables

  • Chit and plant out second early potatoes in the first half of the month, maincrop potatoes in the second half.

  • Sow seed outdoors for beetroot, carrots, Swiss chard, summer cauliflower, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring and pickling onions, peas and perpetual spinach in well-prepared soil.

  • Try sowing unusual vegetables such as salsify, Hamburg parsley, or scorzonera.

  • Sow seed indoors of marrows, courgettes, pumpkins and squash. Also sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, celery, celeriac, salads and globe artichokes.

  • In very mild areas sow dwarf French beans and sweet corn outside under cloches or fleece at the end of April. In cooler areas wait until May.

  • Sow a seedbed of brassicas to provide transplants of sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers and cabbages for planting out in June or July.

  • Transplant broad beans grown in pots.

  • Plant shallots, onion sets and garlic.

  • Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers.

  • Plant asparagus crowns.

  • Pot up tomato seedlings when they develop true leaves above the more rounded seed leaves.

Problems

  • Apply apple and pear scab controls.

  • Deal with aphids, apple sucker, pear sucker, pear midge, caterpillars and powdery mildew.

  • Look out for red spider mite and aphids on strawberries under glass and treat accordingly.

  • Start treating for American gooseberry mildew.

  • Keep on top of weed control and continue through to summer.

General care

Fruit

  • Liquid feed fruit trees in pots with a balanced feed every fortnight.

  • Where possible, protect plum and pear flowers from frost but allow insects access for pollination.

  • Damp down or mist citrus plants regularly when flowering begins. Maintain a min temperature of 14°C (57°F).

  • Deblossom strawberries planted after September in their first year to help establishment.

  • Pick forced strawberries under heated glass.

  • Ventilate strawberries under cloches and mulch with straw or mats.

  • Avoid using insecticides on crops in flower.

Vegetables

  • Support pea plants with sticks, twigs, green support mesh, or wire netting.

  • Thin out rows of seedlings as soon as they are large enough to be handled.

  • Protect early outdoor sowings with fleece and polythene.

  • Continue to force witloof chicory and seakale.

  • Dig up selected chicory roots, pot them up, and position them in a dark warm place (10-13°C; 50-55°F), with an upturned pot over them.

  • Prepare runner bean supports for sowing (in May) or planting out (in June).

Copyright RHS for the above growing advice

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