Here is our list of things to keep your garden going in April and get excited for the seasons ahead.
- Start to direct-sow hardy annual plants such as calendula, poppies and nigella.
- Harden off seedlings you have grown indoors, taking them outside on warm, still days. For the first week, take them out from morning until late afternoon to help them get used to the cooler temperature before leaving them out permanently. You can also plant out half-hardy plants like cosmos in sheltered spots towards the end of the month.
- Prick-out cut flower seedlings, such as amaranthus, tithonia and teddy bear sunflowers. Look after the roots by lifting them with a dibber or hard plant label right from the bottom of the seed tray.
- Sow your perennials such as echinacea or hollyhocks. Fill a seed tray with a seed-soil medium, dampen it and sow seeds an inch apart across the surface. Finely sprinkle soil over the seeds and place them in a warm, light spot until they germinate.
- Once your hardy annuals grow four adult leaves, thin them out to give plants enough room to grow to their optimum size.
- Plant out sweet peas, two plants to each upright stake. Dig a hole and fill it with manure, watering well before planting. Tie them to the base of the frame and train them up as they grow.
- Sow sunflowers in a sunny, open site, then water often and protect the seedlings from garden pests.
- Now is a great time to direct sow some salad leaves, carrots, spinach and chard.
- Sow half-hardy annuals like pumpkins and squash.
- Plant your tomatoes and cucumbers undercover in a greenhouse or polytunnel.
- Keep on top of thinning your seedlings.
- Pot on tomatoes; keep the pot expansion at a slow pace. Tomatoes like to stay cosy and contained. If tomato roots absorb too much compost soil at one time, they tend to rot. Put them one size up at a time and cane them for support.
- Sow fast-growing crops, such as radishes, to make the most of any temporary garden gaps.
- Direct-sow Basil, Chives, Coriander and Chamomile seeds in a sunny bed or containers.
- Divide up any established hardy herbs such as Chives or lemon balm; replant in pots, window-boxes or a dedicated herb garden.
- Plant up containers and hanging baskets. Keep them under cover until the frosts have passed. Go for something long flowering like Whirling Butterflies, Rudbeckia or Salvia.
- Look out for clusters of aphids on shoot tips and young leaves, and wipe them off before they multiply.
- Keep an eye on how dry your garden soil is and water where necessary, especially for new spring plantings.
- Don't forget to leave water dishes out for the bees and the birds.