APRIL IN THE GREENHOUSE – DO WE GARDEN IN SHORTS OR A DUFFLE COAT?
To describe April weather as unpredictable is a massive understatement, so let’s take a quick look as some of the old folklore sayings about it.
April showers make lanes boggy
April rain is good for hay and corn
Thunder in April – floods in May
If it rains on Easter Day There shall be good grass But very bad hay
Have you noticed to emphasis on rain? Which could just mean that we are in for a drought! My friend lived in a tiny upland village in the Peak District, next door to an old farmer. Whenever he was asked in the morning what the weather was likely to be, the farmer always answered: “I’ll tell you tomorrow.”
Even with his years of experience, there was not foolproof way of predicting the weather.
The good thing about greenhouse gardening is that, whatever the weather, you will stay reasonably warm and dry and April is an extremely busy month under glass. The four normal challenges are high temperatures, are the plants gagging for a drink, looking out for bugs and pests and keeping up good ventilation. The mystery challenge is, of course, the risk of frost!!! My horticultural fleece roll remains in the greenhouse right through until the end of May. Slugs and snails remain a problem, particularly as the greenhouse atmosphere becomes more damp with regular watering.
Tomato seeds sown in March should have been potted on as seedlings but kept in the warmth during March and, unless it is particularly warm, until mid-April. They can then be introduced to an unheated greenhouse, but do keep them as far away from the glass as possible. Remember that they love water and regular feeding but cannot tolerate frost.
You should be sowing marrow, courgette, runner bean, celery and French bean seeds in the greenhouse. Early vegetables sown as seed in March will now require potting on and keeping inside until the risk of frost has past – and I’ve heard of planted-out runner beans being killed off on 12 June!
I know I’ve said it before but do listen to the weather forecast and take appropriate action. Leave cans of water – ideally rainwater – in the shade inside the greenhouse so that it does not shock plants when being used.
If you are planning to plant directly into the greenhouse beds, begin preparing the soil now. Keep watering it so that when the time comes to plant out the moisture will be absorbed down to the roots and not simply stay on the surface in pools.
Other than on really warm nights, close greenhouse windows before dark and always shut the door. I’ve had pigeons and pheasant helping themselves to my lovely seedlings in the early hours of the morning and cats simply adore seed trays covered in vermiculite as perfect napping beds. But April really is one of my favourite months as everything is coming back to life and some of the colours are breath taking.
Happy Easter. Linda