April: the second month of autumn. The mornings have cooled quickly, and we have had welcome rain.
My deciduous trees, standard catalpas, are almost bare, mainly because of the hot summer and lack of rain, but do be patient when your deciduous trees begin dropping leaves in earnest; they only drop once a year and the leaves are a valuable source of mulch.
Don’t rake them up and send them to landfill – either compost them or leave them under the tree to return goodness to the soil as Mother Nature intended.
It is time to remove the miserable summer annuals and prepare the beds with poultry manure and an all-purpose plant food – do this quickly as April is an ideal month to plant out pansies, primula and poppies, which are traditionally planted on Anzac Day.
Always leave freshly-manured gardens for at least one week before planting.
Winter vegetables and flowers, which include those that bloom in spring, prefer an alkaline soil – hence the use of poultry manure.
If you intend to plant poppies, prepare a week ahead by applying lime to the soil.
Plant cabbages and cauliflowers early to ensure good cropping.
Spring bulbs will soon be available in retail outlets. Choose early as individual colour can be difficult to find to plant before May.
Tulips and hyacinths need a couple of weeks in the fridge crisper to trick them into thinking it is really cold before planting.
Remember, when planting bulbs: they need to be fed, again on emergence and when the foliage is dying down.
April is also an ideal month to divide perennials, including overcrowded agapanthus, clivia, iris and violets, all of which can be split successfully.