April is an exciting month for UK allotment holders. The sun is shining, the soil is warming, and nature is buzzing with life. As the gardening season kicks off, it’s time to get your hands dirty and make the most of this productive period. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential jobs to tackle in your allotment during April, ensuring a bountiful harvest and a thriving plot.
A productive allotment begins with healthy soil. In April, prepare your beds by removing any weeds and incorporating well-rotted organic matter, such as compost or manure. This will improve soil structure, fertility, and moisture retention. Additionally, it’s important to check your soil’s pH levels and make any necessary adjustments.
You could also consider trying a no-dig bed.
April is prime time for sowing seeds both indoors and outdoors. Start by sowing frost-sensitive plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines, indoors in a warm, well-lit space. Outdoors, sow hardier crops like peas, broad beans, carrots, beetroot, spinach, and onions. Use a cloche or fleece cover to protect the seedlings from any late frosts.
For plants started indoors in March, April is the perfect time to transplant them into your allotment. Harden off your seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions for a week or two before transplanting. Plant out early potatoes, onion sets, and shallots, as well as brassicas like kale, cabbage, and broccoli.
Prepare for the growing season by installing supports for climbing plants such as beans, peas, and tomatoes. Use sturdy stakes, trellises, or netting to provide adequate support and maximise your vertical space.
April is an essential month for fruit care. Prune any remaining fruit trees and bushes, such as gooseberries, redcurrants, and blackcurrants. Mulch around the base of the plants with well-rotted organic matter to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Protect blossoming fruit trees from frost using horticultural fleece.
As the weather warms, pests become more active. Keep an eye out for common allotment pests like aphids, slugs, and snails, and take preventative measures to keep them in check. Encourage natural predators like birds, frogs, and hedgehogs to your plot, or use organic control methods such as nematodes and insecticidal soap.
Watering and Mulching:
Although April can bring some showers, it’s essential to keep a consistent watering schedule. Water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation. Additionally, mulching around your plants will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Clean and tidy your greenhouse, ensuring adequate ventilation and removing any algae or moss. Check for any broken panes or damage and repair them as needed. Inspect your greenhouse plants for pests and diseases, and treat them accordingly.
April is the time to enjoy some early harvests. Asparagus, rhubarb, and early spring greens like kale and spinach can be picked and enjoyed. Remember to harvest regularly to encourage continuous production.
Planning and Record-Keeping:
Keep a garden journal to record your planting dates, varieties, successes, and failures. This information will help you learn from your experiences and improve your allotment.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!