WHAT TO DO IN YOUR GARDEN IN APRIL?
  • If you have tender seedlings make sure you bring them into the house for the night or fleece or cover them if they are in a tunnel or greenhouse.
  • Give azaleas and acid-loving plants a feed with ericaceous fertiliser.
  • Trim winter-flowering heathers, removing faded flowers and tidying up their shape.
  • Pick off dead flower heads from spring bulbs.
  • Throw sheets of fleece over fruit trees on frosty nights to protect blossom.
  • Plant out onion sets and shallots.
  • Place collars around the stems of brassicas to prevent an attack of cabbage root fly.
  • Place plant supports over clumps of tall-growing perennials such as lupins and delphiniums.
  • Pick off faded flower heads from hyacinths, to prevent them wasting energy setting seed.
  • Plant groups of gladioli corms in borders.
  • Sow pots of herbs such as parsley, coriander, and basil.
  • Sow seeds of the following crops this week if conditions are fine: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, pak choi, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.
  • Cut away unwanted suckers growing around the base of trees and shrubs.
  • Lift large waterlilies from ponds, divide and replant them.
  • Clean pond pumps and filters, and make sure they are working properly.
  • Hand weed alpine and rock gardens.

Six of the best companion plants to grow in your garden. Companion planting is an organic method of maintaining a natural balance in your garden, aiding pollination and keeping pest numbers down. Common plant combinations include growing herbs & garlic with roses to deter aphids and planting any of the allium family (onions, etc.) around carrots to ward off carrot root fly. Most companion plants are strongly scented and confuse pests looking for their host plant. Others attract beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and lacewings, which prey on aphids. Here are six of the best herbs you can plant in your garden;

  • Borage is an attractive plant with hairy leaves that have a slight cucumber flavour, its lovely delicate blue flowers are a magnet for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hoverflies, which pollinate crops. If planted nearby, borage can prevent attacks from tomato hornworm and is said to improve the flavour of strawberries. Very easy to grow from seed.
  • Thyme, makes a good companion plant for roses, as its strong scent deters blackfly. A tea made from soaking thyme leaves and sprayed on cabbages can prevent whitefly.
  • If left to flower, fennel, produces attractive yellow blooms that attract hoverflies, which prey on aphids
  • The strongly scented leaves of mint, confuse pests of carrots, tomatoes, alliums, and brassicas, and deter flea beetles. But grow it in a pot, or it could smother your crop!
  • Lavender, (Lavandula angustifolia) attracts a range of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Its strong scent can also deter aphids. Plant with carrots and leeks to confuse pests.
  • Sage, (Salvia officinalis), is strongly scented and will confuse pests of brassicas if planted alongside them. Its blue flowers attract bees and hoverflies, which also pollinate crops.
April