Days are becoming shorter, temperatures are dropping and leaves are beginning to turn; all signs autumn is well underway. It’s a busy time in the garden with plenty of tasks that need doing before winter sets in - but be sure to take time to stop and admire the beautiful colours the season brings.
In the Veggie Patch
- If you haven’t prepared your winter vegetable garden for winter, then get it underway. Add in plenty of compost to the existing soil and blood and bone as a base fertiliser. To stop winter veggies from getting water logged, ensure you slightly raise the area you are planting in so water can drain easily.
- By planting winter vegetables now, they will have enough time to become well established before the onset of the cold, wet, winter weather. You can sow your own seeds into seed trays indoors or directly into the garden, depending on the vegetable. Veggies to plant in April include; Broad Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Lettuce (all types), Onions, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Swedes and Turnips. Always stagger your plantings (every 2-3 weeks) so that all of your vegetables do not mature at the same time and instead provide crops throughout the season. If space is an issue, many varieties can be grown in pots or containers – just be sure to use good quality potting mix.
- Summer displays are almost finished, so keep dead-heading those blooms you wish to prolong. Winter flowering annuals brighten up even the dreariest of winters. Start planting out now, but ensure you prepare the soil well beforehand, as per above. Winter annuals include; Alyssum, Aquilegia, Calendulas, Cineraria, Cornflowers, Lobelia, Nemesia, Pansy, Lupins (South Island) Snapdragons, Status, Stock, Sweat Peas, Sweet William and Violas.
- Although main bulb planting months are usually February and March, it is still possible to plant in early April, especially as garden centres often have great deals to clear stock. Bulbs grow best in an open, sunny position in well drained, fertile soil. Add compost to lighten ‘heavy’ soil if this is an issue. Plant bulbs in clusters for a more pronounced flowering effect. Remember to label where you plant your new bulbs so that you do not forget and accidentally dig them up!
- The autumn display of many roses can be quite spectacular after the hot dry months of summer. If you provide a little TLC, some varieties like Iceberg will continue flowering through till July in warmer areas of the country. Remove any dead flowers and fallen leaves as they will no doubt contain black spot and rust. Apply compost and a light dressing of rose fertiliser around your rose bushes to improve the organic matter in the soil and help suppress weeds which tend to almost pop up overnight this time of year.
- April is a safe month for sowing a new lawn or renovating/repairing an existing one. For new lawns, success relies on thorough preparation. If bringing new topsoil on to your property, make sure it is good quality as new weeds can be brought in with imported topsoil. Ensure you new lawn is well drained, considering wet winter months. Check you have the correct grass variety for your site and if you are unsure, talk to local experts at your garden centre for advice. Sow seed evenly and be prepared to over-sow in a few weeks’ time where the germination of the grass seed has been patchy.
- With existing lawns, apply Daltons Premium Lawn Fertiliser now and water it thoroughly after application. Mow regularly to help develop a strong thatch. Clippings can go into the compost bin – little and often only.