Gordale’s Top Jobs for your garden this month. April We are very aware that for the less experienced gardener it can be a very daunting task to decide what you should be doing in your garden each month, especially if you have limited time. To help make your gardening easier and more enjoyable, each month we give you a list of some of the most important jobs to do in your garden and recommend products to use. Always remember to follow the instructions on the pack. If you have any queries or problems please do ask any of our qualified knowledgeable staff who will be more than willing to help you. WEEDING BORDERS Remove emerging weeds from your borders early before they become established. You can remove them by hand or by hoe but for best results use a simple contact weed killer. Gordale recommends - Scotts Weedol 2 ( 90m2 3 sachets £5.49). FEEDING As Spring Flowering Bulbs fade, pick off the heads to prevent formation of seed heads. DO NOT tie up the leaves in any way. Feed with soluble plant food. Gordale recommends- Scotts Miracle-Gro ( 1kg £3.79). LAWNS Just one lawn care treatment could transform any neglected lawn, it doesn’t take long and it doesn’t cost a lot to do. The secret is to apply a triple action treatment. The grass will become thicker greener and weeds and moss will be reduced. All you have to do is mow the lawn, approximately 3 days later on a dry day apply the treatment, 3 to 4 days later mow the lawn again. Gordale recommends- Scotts Evergreen Complete ( 200m2 £9.99) PLANTING A rhododendron or azalea is one of the most impressive plants you can have in your garden. They do require ericaceous soil but special plant foods can help if your soil has too much lime in it. Remember your other ericaceous plants will benefit from a feed as well – honeysuckle, gardenia, magnolia, acer, hydrangea, heather and camellias. Gordale recommends- Miracle-Gro Ericaceous Plant Food ( 1l £3.99) FRUIT AND VEGETABLES Home produced fruit and vegetables are very popular. For best results feed your plants but you must use a feed specially formulated for edible crops, an organic product will allow you to avoid using chemicals. Gordale recommends Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Fruit and Vegetable Plant Food ( 1.5kg £4.99) If you have a greenhouse plant some tomatoes, they taste much nicer than any you can buy in the shop. Plants cost just 79 pence and grow very well in a grow bag. Gordale recommends – Tomorite Giant Planter (£3.99) DRIVES AND PATHS Weeds in paths, patios and drives look very unsightly, whilst you can just pull them out more can grow back. Special weedkillers are available that not only kill existing weeds but put down a residual layer that will control weed seeds that try to grow over the next months Gordale recommends - Pathclear Season-Long ( 120m2 12 sachets £16.49) Contact weedkiller - kills what it touches so take care with plants surrounding the one you want to kill. Soluble plant food- dissolves in water Triple action treatment- one product contains feed, weedkiller and moss killer. Ericaceous- acidic soil for acid loving plants, these plants cannot grow in a lime (alkali) soil. If your soil is not acidic you can grow these plants in a pot using ericaceous compost. April Summer time is now with us and suddenly sunset is an hour further into the evening, many of us can look forward to some extra time pottering in the garden when the weather is mild. Emerging weeds will indicate when the soil is warm enough for general seed sowing and flowering trees and bushes will be encouraging lots of pollinating insects to start work. The Ornamental Garden Annual weeds will be popping through bare soil ready to make a mess of your flower bed before you get a chance to sow flower seed or put out bedding plants. Early treatment when they are small will save you time and energy, especially if you prefer hand weeding and the hoe versus chemical weed control. In mixed borders weeding with a hoe can sometimes damage shallow rooting plants and do more harm than good. That’s why I prefer to use a simple contact weedkiller such as Weedol 2 (3 Sachet 90m2 £5.49, contains diquat) to clear these first annual weeds. I can see results in a few days and I can carry on sowing or planting as soon as the leaves have dried. For those of you who prefer not to use traditional chemical weedkillers there are some new ones on the market that are based on fatty acids. Weedol Max (1L Ready To Use £4.99) is one such new contact weedkiller. It contains pelargonic acid, a molecule found in many plant cells, but when concentrated and sprayed onto plant leaves becomes a powerful weedkiller. It is fast-acting, showing visual effects in just a few hours and kills the weed in a day. So if you want to unleash the power of nature look out for Weedol Max in your local garden centre or diy store in a concentrate form or a ready-to-use sprayer called Weedol Max Gun! Tough easy flowers such as clary, echium, calendula, cornflower, gypsophila, candytuft, larkspur and poppy can be sown in garden soil where they are going to bloom. Protect the newly emerging shoots of herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums, peonies, lupins, hosta, dicentra and aquilegia from slugs with Bio Slug & Snail Killer Pellets (1Kg £3.49, 2 for £6.00). Alternatively why not use a liquid slug killer such as SlugClear (250ml £4.99) that leaves no visible residues on the soil or plants. Plant lilies, gladioli corms and other summer flowering bulbs such as Ixia, Freesias and Nerines. Towards the end of the month plant out dahlia tubers so that they are ready to produce a summer display. Topical Tip As tulips and daffodils fade, pick off the heads to prevent the formation of seed heads and feed the plant with a good soluble plant food such as Miracle-Gro (1Kg £3.79, 4Kg £11.49). Feeding while the leaves are green will help them to bulk up and ensure flowering next year. Don't bend the leaves down for at least six weeks after flowering. The Lawn The lawn is still the heart of most family gardens. And although not always appreciated because it needs mowing regularly, it is still a green haven of soft comfort for relaxation and a useful contrast to the many colours of summer flowers. It’s a shame that only about 1 in 8 lawns ever get more attention than being mowed. Untended lawns may look good from a distance, but they are normally riddled with moss and weeds and any remaining grass is a pale imitation of its possible greenness. Just one lawn care treatment could transform any neglected lawn. It’s not as if it takes a long time or costs a fortune. You can treat the average size lawn in about 10 minutes and it will cost you less than £10. The secret of success is a simple-to-apply triple-action treatment with something such as EverGreen Complete (200m2 £9.99). Just one application and your grass will quickly become greener, thicker and weed and moss free. A lawn spreader will ensure that you distribute the product evenly and in the right concentration. Three days after mowing, choose a dry day to open the spreader and walk up and down the lawn to spread the granules evenly over the lawn area. Each granule contains rich nitrogen to turn the grass green and enough weed and mosskiller to get rid of most weed problems. Wait another 3 or 4 days after application to mow the grass again and then wait for the transformation. In a week the grass will start going greener and in a couple of weeks the weeds will be twisting into the last throes of dying. You can sit back and admire your handiwork. Mowing the lawn is a necessary evil, but it can be a satisfying job if you don’t cut it too short. Leave each blade of grass at least 2.5cm (1 inch) long as this gives the plants enough energy to fill in the gaps left by dying weeds and to grow into a thicker, lusher lawn. For a great finish re-shape lawn edges using a half- moon edger to give a sharp freshness and a clear transition between the lawn and the flowerbeds. Topical Tip In wet, shady areas of the lawn where moss is a recurring problem spike the surface with a fork to improve drainage and let air underground. Roses, Shrubs and Trees Few plants can stop you in your tracks like a thriving rhododendron or azalea in bloom. Covered in flowers, the display is breathtaking. Like other ericaceous plants (camellias, heathers and citrus fruits) they need an acid soil topped up with a regular feeding programme containing all the essential nutrients so that they can produce a stunning display year after year. Unfortunately if the soil contains lime then these ericaceous plants cannot thrive – the growth slows down and the leaves turn yellow as the plant cannot take up iron to maintain green, food producing leaves. Anyone can stop yellowing leaves with a special plant food for lime-hating plants such as Miracle-Gro Ericaceous Plant Food (1Kg £4.49) or Miracle-Gro Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Plant Food Liquid (1L £3.99). Both feed the plants and supply chelated iron to help prevent leaf yellowing. Just wet the leaves and soak the soil in spring and a couple of times through the summer and you'll create plants that carry beautiful blooms and have a deep rich leaf colour. Remember that while you are safe-guarding expensive shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas there are other plants that appreciate an ericaceous feed. Gardenia, honeysuckle, magnolia, acers and hydrangea all welcome this feed and petunias both in the garden and in hanging baskets seem to grow stronger and more vigorously. If the soil in your garden is completely wrong for ericaceous plants then you'll have to go really potty to enjoy their beauty. If acid-loving plants really can’t tolerate your soil, then try planting them up in containers of Levington Ericaceous Compost (56L £4.99). It's ideal for all acid-loving plants and if fed subsequently with a Miracle-Gro Ericaceous Plant Food (1Kg £4.99) they will thrive. Roses will br growing fast in the warmer weather, especially if they were pruned back hard at the end of the winter. To protect the new soft foliage, spray with Rose Clear 3 (150ml concentrate makes 15 Litres - £6.99, 800ml RTU gun £3.99) for long lasting protection. Rose Clear 3 is an insecticide and fungicide combined. The insecticide is a contact killer for whitefly, greenfly etc and a systemic fungicide will provide long lasting protection against mildew, rust and blackspot. Spray in early spring and then again 2 weeks later if the problem persists. Topical Tip After your rhododendrons have finished blooming, nip off the flower heads cleanly between thumb and forefinger. This will encourage new shoots to develop that will carry next year’s flower heads. Fruit and Vegetables April is the time for planting early potatoes. If scab is a problem in your garden soil, line the trench with organic matter such as Levington Organic Choice Blend Soil Conditioner (56L £4.99, 3 for £12.00) or Miracle-Gro Soil Improver. A good dressing of a general fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Slow Release All Purpose Plant Food (1Kg £4.99) raked into the surface will ensure strong growth. If you are trying to grow your home-produced vegetables more closely with nature then Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Fruit & Vegetable Plant Food (1.5Kg £4.99) is ideal. Sprinkled over the soil surface it is a rich source of balanced nutrients all obtained from recycled animal and vegetable materials enriched with nutrients naturally extracted from rock sediments. Sow some short-rooted carrots if the soil is crumbly and can be broken down easily into a friable texture. Try Early Nantes (Suffolk Herbs Organic Range, 500 seeds £1.19), Amsterdam Forcing (Thompson & Morgan Seeds, 2000 seeds £1.69) or Systan if you have fine soil. If the ground is stony, try Rondo, which produces golf-ball shaped carrots of good flavour. Make sure all fruit trees and bushes have had the benefit of a generous dose of fertilizer using a controlled release plant food such as Osmocote (1Kg £4.99) or Miracle-Gro Slow Release Plant Food (1Kg £4.99) for long lasting results and a good crop. Strawberries will now start to flower ready for a May crop and the open flowers will need protecting against hard frosts with layers of newspaper when severe cold weather is forecast. If you have a greenhouse or growing conservatory, plant up tomato plants in a Levington Traditional Gro-Bag (£1.99) or a Tomorite Giant Planter (£3.99). Water them well and make sure the greenhouse is frost-free or you may loose your valuable plants to cold. Topical Tip Plant up strawberry plants in a Levington Organic Blend Strawberry Planter (£3.99). They will grow especially well on a sunny patio where slug activity will be reduced to a minimum. This Giant Gro-Bag has extra depth to the bag to help prevent the plants from drying out between waterings. It’s also enriched with organic nutrients for a juicy, delicious crop of tasty strawberries. Patio Gardening Sort out the pots and containers that you will use for this summer's display of tender plants such as fuchsia, geraniums, petunias, osteospermums and marguerites. Empty any compost from last year's display and check to see if you can find any grubs of the black vine weevil. They are creamy white, legless grubs, up to 10 mm long with a light brown head. If you spot any, then your garden has a vine weevil problem worthy of attention. To help protect new ornamental container grown plants from attack they need to be grown in fresh potting compost. During the summer watch out for the distinctive symptoms of adult vine weevil - they eat the leaves of plants such as fuchsia, rhododendron, auricula, euonymous, lilac and peony, leaving notches around the edges of the leaves. The adults that do the damage to the leaves are nocturnal and you may be able to spot the culprits if you visit these affected plants with a torch after dark. The adults aren’t really the whole problem though. Underground in the compost there will be hundreds of white grubs busily eating away the roots of your favourite plants. To get rid of these unwelcome visitors simply drench the compost with a solution of Provado Vine Weevil Killer (1L £9.99). It contains a new systemic insecticide called acetamiprid which will kill off the grubs and give internal protection of the whole plant against sap sucking insects such as whitefly, aphids, red spider mite, mealy bug and scale insects. Topical Tip Weeds in paths, patios and gravel drives are really unsightly and need treatment early. Use a special weedkiller, such as Pathclear Season-Long (12 Sachet 120m2 £16.49, other sizes available), that kills existing weeds and puts down a residual layer in the surface that will control weeds seeds that try to grow in the next few months. Always remember to follow the instructions on the packaging.