April brings shorter days but they are often still warm, so this month is ideal for tidying up and nourishing the garden ready for winter crops. While it still fairly mild, watch out for the transition to winter in the air.

Key Points

  • Strawberries – Now’s the time to be planting strawberries.
    Strawberries like good fertile soil so dig in lots of top quality compost before planting. A handful of Blood and Bone in the planting hole and a top dressing of general fertiliser will get them off to a flying start. Remember to water in well after planting.Strawberries look great in strawberry pots on the deck – easy picking in the summer!
  • Vege Garden – still lots to do in the vegetable garden this month.
    • Spinach, cabbage, winter lettuce, bok choy, should all be part of your winter garden.
    • Broad beans are a great winter garden crop – plant seeds now into prepared soil. Provide some support as they do get reasonably tall (use twigs and small branches from your pruning in the garden).
    • Broad beans are easy care, and you will have delicious young beans in October / November.
    • Shallots – sweeter than garlic, milder than onions. Great in stews and casseroles, or roasted whole. Shallots are easy to grow and take up little space in the garden.
  • Rhubarb – Nothing beats the taste of homegrown rhubarb with your muesli or weet-bix for breakfast! Rhubarb is planted by ‘Crowns’ which are available this month.
    Rhubarb plants are heavy feeders so dig in plenty of top quality compost at planting time and follow up with general garden fertiliser at regular intervals through the year.

The Edible Garden

  • This month continues the tasks of March – harvesting the last of the summer vege crops and preparing the ground for autumn and winter crops.
  • Be sure to store crops such as pumpkins, onions and potatoes in a cool, dry place and regularly check to make sure no infections have set in on any of them.
  • This is the time to sow broad bean seeds for late winter harvest. Broad beans are best picked when young and sweet and make a tasty addition to late winter meals. They are easy to grow – do provide support for them – and are heavy croppers.
  • Winter lettuce can be planted now – be sure to choose winter varieties such as ‘Winter Triumph.’
  • Rhubarb crowns can be lifted, split, and re-planted into the newly prepared soil. Rhubarb enjoys a food rich soil so add in lots of compost, sheep pellets, blood and bone, and top dress with general garden fertiliser.
  • Garden centres will have bundles of bare rooted strawberry plants in stock now. This is the best time to plant. Prepare the soil well as for rhubarb and feed again in early spring.
  • Sow sugar snap peas now.
  • Continue planting seedlings of cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, spinach and silverbeet.
  • Fruit trees that have been harvested and are starting to shed their leaves can be given a clean-up with a copper spray – this will help kill off any overwintering fungus spores.
  • Now is a good time to start planting deciduous fruit trees which will all be appearing in the garden centre – peaches, plums, nectarines, apples. Look for double or triple grafted trees and dwarf growing varieties which are ideal for small gardens and growing in containers – Deciduous fruit trees: the bare essentials

The Flower Garden

  • Another busy month in the flower garden clearing up the last of the summer annuals and preparing the ground and planting autumn/ winter varieties.
  • This is the last month for planting spring flowering bulbs. Mix bulb food into the soil when planting – this will get them off to a good start once the roots start developing.
  • Lots of winter flowering shrubs and trees will start appearing in the stores this month – this is the ideal time to plant as it gives the plant time to establish and firm up in the ground before the onset of winter. Remember to stake tall trees when planting.
  • Prune back shrubs and climbers that have finished flowering.
  • Plant out Primulas, polyanthus, pansies, violas, cineraria, sweet pea, and stock.
  • Plant up pots and containers for autumn and winter colour. Add slow-release fertiliser to the potting mix and feed weekly with a liquid or soluble flowering plant food. A tub filled with pansies or polyanthus will look a picture and will flower for months.

The Lawn

  • Autumn is a great time to sow new lawn as there is still enough warmth in the sun and a bit of rain to help with the watering.
  • Tidy up all dips, hollows and bare patches, re-seed if necessary.
  • Apply a lawn fertiliser to all existing lawns, spread evenly and water in.
  • Control broadleaf weeds in established lawns with the relevant weed control product.