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Gardening Jobs for the month: April

Gardening month-by-month

Lawn Care

Lawns need attention early in the season if they are to look any good. Some can be full of moss at this time of year, with the actual grass is looking a bit thin. Use a mosskiller now, either liquid or lawn sand, let the moss die back and rake it out. If the grass has grown much give it a close cut first so you can get to the moss, and box-off the clippings.

Once the moss is out, if there is a lot of bare soil then rake to loosen and create a seed bed. Sow at about 35g per sq m, rake over lightly and firm in. Water if the soil is dry and germination should take place within 10 to 14 days depending on soil temperature.

A lawn that is not too bad will benefit from a complete lawn treatment such as Evergreen Complete which will kill the moss, kill the weeds and feed it! It is a good investment which should last most of the summer; you might have to feed a little later on depending on how close you cut the lawn and how much hard use it gets.

Pruning, feeding and mulching

Hopefully all the pruning is out of the way by now, so your next step is feeding and mulching climbers, roses and other shrubs and perennial plants. This is vital if you want them to perform well this year. Slow release feeds are best, and the magic mulch can be anything from well-rotted garden compost or manure, to bought in compost or bark chippings.

Prepare to prune the early flowering plants (Forsythia and the like) as soon as they have finished flowering so that the new growth has time to form and produce new flower buds for next spring.

Rose Care

Roses may show early signs of black spot so keep a treatment handy – the choice is not great but both Rose Clear and Multirose are both good and will knock any early greenfly problems on the head at the same time. Then get the sprayer out – fungicide treatment is almost unavoidable if you want to keep the plants free from disease. If you grow without chemicals, then the really important thing is to keep the soil in good heart with plenty of good organic matter and bonemeal or seaweed meal as a supplement.

Check all trees and shrubs – including roses – are firm in the ground. The high winds of the past month may have caused windrock and the damage to the roots can mean a plant will suddenly fail later in the summer.

Pest Control

We didn’t get much in the way of deep penetrating frost this winter so the indications are that slugs could be a real challenge this year, meaning your precious seedlings could soon disappear. The choice is slug traps filled with beer barriers such as copper or wool pellets that dissuade slugs from approaching, or slug killers that will solve the problem on a more permanent basis.

Grow Your Own

The grow-your-own veg is really worthwhile and you can start from either seeds or seedlings. The garden centre now offers young vegetable plants that are ready to plant out as well the fantastic range of seeds in packets that excite the eye with visions of perfect produce.

Vegetable gardens do need to be prepared, forked over to remove the tough perennial weeds and kill the fresh weed seedlings. Manure and the lime should have been added over winter, but it’s not too late if you good composted organic matter available. Best not to do this in seed beds as you can attract the slugs, but fine where you are planting out potatoes, onion sets or transplanting vegetable plants or sowing larger seeds such as peas and beans.

Borders

Herbaceous borders will be showing growth, so make sure that you have plant supports ready for taller growing varieties. Grow-through supports such as the large metal circles or cut hazel twigs, need to be in place before the plant grows through! Other systems such as the curved wire frames, link stakes, or canes can be used as needed.

Fruit trees and bushes

These will now be in blossom, and vulnerable to late frost. If they are small enough to cover with fleece then it could make the difference between crop and no crop.

Hanging Baskets and Containers

You can start to plant in April but it is usually far too risky to set them outside; wait until the risk of frost has passed. Worth bearing in mind that early planted tubs and containers will mature early with those planted later still be going strong in late August when the others have expired.

All containers need to be watered. Rain water is best but can be an unreliable supply if we get a drought. Tap water is mostly hard meaning it contains a large amount of Calcium carbonate, so to keep ericaceous plants growing well in pots it is important to add a special ericaceous liquid  feed and dose it with sequestered iron at least twice during the year.

Lastly – once the plant is established, top dress with appropriate fertiliser (specialist Azalea/Rhodo feed or even Rose Fertiliser) in spring to encourage growth and in late summer to encourage flower buds for the following spring. You will probably need top up the compost as well.

April at Orchard Park

Everyone writes of the joys of spring but it is truly undeniable and such a relief after the winter months. The equinox is behind us and the daylight hours have begun to exceed the night which means we can look forward to some great growing weather!

Our weather is predictably unpredictable; the first 24 hours of April have already delivered strong winds, heavy rain and glorious sunshine! You’ll notice our team working in the garden centre wearing anything from a heavy jacket, fleece and gloves to short-sleeved polo tops and gilets!

Don’t forget we have post a regular gardening month-by-month blog to help you plan your jobs.

Garden Plants

It’s a fantastic time of year for plant growth! The soil is moist and early flowering shrubs, fruit trees and bushes will produce flowers before leaves. Bulbs and early flowering perennials are taking advantage of the space before it becomes occupied by summer flowering plants. These spring flowerers are something special as they really have to try hard to attract the early insects if they want to get their pollen spread about.

Something different to see every day makes spring the most exciting of seasons!

Garden Centre Plants for sale

Anything in a pot can be bought and planted throughout the year, as long as you are ready to water it! You’ll start to see more bedding plants around the garden centre during this month, and we’ve hit grow your own season! Whether you’re looking to grow fruit and vegetables from seeds or small plants, we should have what you’re looking for.

Herbaceous perennials such as geraniums, hollyhocks and delphiniums are in season now and will live from year to year. We’ve also got some lovely big shrubs such as rhododendrons, cytisus and prunus for a big, showy effect in your garden!

Meat Boxes, Dorset

Exciting news from the farm shop this month as meat boxes have landed in Gillingham! You can now become the proud owner of a box bursting with the tastiest, freshest, most local meat in town, hand-selected and prepared by our very own skilled team of “proper” butchers! We will even deliver for free to the local area.

READ MORE

Flowers online, Dorset

Cut out the middle man and order flowers directly from our brand new online flower shop! We can make beautiful flower arrangements for any occasion and deliver them to the local area.

FIND OUT MORE

Gardening jobs for the month – March

Gardening month-by-month: Jobs for the March

In a nutshell: clearing, pruning, weeding, feeding and mulching!

In the flower beds, the dead growth from last year should be cut back before the new growth gets too far ahead, especially with ornamental grasses and clumps of perennials.

Spring flowering shrubs should be left until after they have flowered but any overgrown summer shrubs could be thinned out by removing old wood (take out about a third of the plant) or cutting back low the fast growing Spiraeas and Buddlejas.

Perennial weeds usually need to be dug out unless you can apply a systemic weed killer such as glyphosate, without touching other plants. If you do use a weed killer then be sure to let it do its job properly; don’t apply it if it is going to rain in the next 6 hours, and let the plant die back before you tidy it away,

Feeding and mulching are the best way to make your garden ‘grow’, a slow release multipurpose feed such as Vitax Q4, TopRose or Miracle-Gro Granular is ideal, or if you prefer a liberal dressing of Blood Fish and Bonemeal.

The best mulch would be your own well-rotted garden compost from your carefully tended compost heap, bagged re-cycled green waste or bark mulch. All work well to keep the weeds at bay, retaining moisture and feeding the soil over a longer period of time.

Summer flowering bulbs and corms such as lilies, gladioli and dahlias can be planted out later in March, and overgrown perennials lifted, divided and replanted.

In the edible garden, fruits trees and bushes are budding up nicely, but the soils may still be too wet to cultivate. It really does need to dry up a bit but from experience it will happen and when it does it will happen quickly.

The soil can be improved with addition of grit and organic manure. If you have time, energy and the materials then raised beds are worth making. They don’t have to be too big, even 1m x 50cm would make a useful space, and raised beds are very much more productive as they are easier to cultivate and maintain.

If you are working on small beds then sow some early leaf crops indoors to get a head start, quick maturing salads and spinach are usually successful. Root crops such as early carrots and beetroot are usually best sown direct as they don’t transplant quite so well.

Potato growers should have their selected seed potatoes set out in a light frost free place to chit (letting the shoots start to grow). The early varieties can probably be planted out early to mid-March if the weather is good and the soil temperature is rising. A soil thermometer is useful as ideally the temperature should be over 7°c.

Onion sets and shallots can go in now as they are quite tough. Birds love to pull them out as they start to grow so either firm them in really well or protect them with a layer of fleece until, they have put roots down.

A few other jobs to tackle: if you have a pond, check the plants in baskets before they start to grow. If they need dividing and replanting use aquatic compost. Well-established pond plants can be fed with a special aquatic plant tablet that is formulated for pond use and doesn’t encourage the growth of algae.

Finally the lawn; give it a light trim on a dry day and see what treatment it needs. A complete weed, feed and mosskill will sort most problems especially if used alongside a good raking over and aeration using a fork, then reseed bare or thin patches or re-turf as this is often an easier and economic option.

Grow Your Own – Jobs for the Month

In the grow-your-own garden, things have not all been plain sailing but salads are cropping and early peas are picking now. Beans have been really slow to get going with repeated germination failures because of the cold and poor light levels. Courgettes are a bit behind but will soon catch up. With any garden crop, regular picking and start feeding at the right time not when the plants are looking sick or have stopped performing! The other good move is to sow fresh crops – a little but often works well. A short row of salad leaves every couple of weeks will give a continuous supply of tasty fresh green goodness. There’s still time to sow spring onions, radishes, Swiss chard, spinach, late carrots, spring cabbages and cauliflowers to overwinter.
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6 Tips how to get the most out of your Seed Potatoes

Potatoes from your plot….

With the shortage of potatoes having driven the prices up in the shops, it makes sense to grow a few spuds yourself this year!  They are easy and rewarding to grow and it’s good exercise too!  Here are a few tips to getting started;

  • Choosing seed potatoes from the garden centre (on sale now!)  These are certified as being pest and disease free which is key to getting a good healthy crop.  The seed potatoes are clearly marked on the packs:
  • First early – choose these varieties if you want new potatoes early in the season.  Plant mid to end of March to crop mid to late June
  • Second early – plant these varieties early to mid April to crop late July to early August
  • Maincrop – Plant mid April to crop early – mid August.  These can also be stored fro autumn and winter use.
  • Chitting – Just means encouraging the seed potatoes to produce sturdy green shoots before planting.  Place in trays or egg boxes with the end with most buds uppermost somewhere light and cool (and frost free) until you’re ready to plant.
  • Soil – Potatoes love an enriched soil – lots of home made compost or bagged rotted manure or similar.  A general fertilizer is a good idea too but avoid using lime with potatoes. Read More

Chitting your potatoes

Potatoes from your plot….

With the shortage of potatoes having driven the prices up in the shops, it makes sense to grow a few spuds yourself this year!  They are easy and rewarding to grow and it’s good exercise too!  Here are a few tips to getting started;

  • Choosing seed potatoes from the garden centre (on sale now!)  These are certified as being pest and disease free which is key to getting a good healthy crop.  The seed potatoes are clearly marked on the packs:
  • First early – choose these varieties if you want new potatoes early in the season.  Plant mid to end of March to crop mid to late June
  • Second early – plant these varieties early to mid April to crop late July to early August
  • Maincrop – Plant mid April to crop early – mid August.  These can also be stored for autumn and winter use.
  • Chitting – Just means encouraging the seed potatoes to produce sturdy green shoots before planting.  Place in trays or egg boxes with the end with the most buds uppermost somewhere light and cool (and frost free) until you’re ready to plant.
  • Soil – Potatoes love an enriched soil – lots of home made compost or bagged rotted manure or similar.  A general fertilizer is a good idea too but avoid using lime with potatoes.

Our full range of seed potatoes are now here and we have many varieties to choose from!

Amongst our ‘first early’ crop we have;

  • Arran Pilot
  • Pentland Javelin
  • Epicure
  • Vales Emerald
  • Swift
  • Sharpes express
  • Foremost
  • Accord

We also have a selection of Second early & Main crop.  All come in 2.5 kg bags at £3.99

New Book Launch at Orchard Park

Madeleine

Orchard Park were delighted launch a new book by Madeleine Cardozo called “Down to Earth”, a guide to how to successfully grow your own vegetables in your own garden or allotment. The launch took place on Friday 10th Sept and the book is now available at Orchard Park for £14.99.

Madeleine is a part of Haxnicks company at Mere and Orchard Park are pleased to work closely together with them – Haxnicks manufactures a range of propagation and plant care products for commercial Growers, Nurserymen and Foresters. From Rootrainers to Fabric Rolls and Biodegradable pots.


Orchard Park Garden Centre, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5JG
Tel:01747 835544
info@orchardpark.uk.net
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