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Your gardening calendar: Top tasks for April!

Our monthly calendar guides focus on what we do: Wildflowers, edible crops and wildlife. Here, we'll take you step-by-step through the most important sowing, growing and nature-friendly tasks for April.

Sowing and growing wildflowers

We've reached peak sowing season

April is the perfect time to sow most types of wildflower seeds. The last heavy winter frosts (at least should) have passed, and sowing in April still gives annual wildflowers like cornflowers and field poppies plenty of time to mature and bloom during the summer.

It's also the perfect time to start sowing foxglove seeds directly into the ground.

The foxglove is a biennial wildflower, meaning it has a two-year life cycle. In the first year the plant develops roots and foliage, and in the second year it flowers (during the summer), then sets seed and dies. Foxgloves do well both in sun and partial shade.

Sunflower seeds are another favourite for April sowing. They're a fantastic source of food for birds and bees (and great fun for the wee ones 😊)

Sowing and growing fruit, vegetables and herbs

Sowing and growing outdoors

Once all frosts are passed, you can sow various root vegetables directly into the ground this month. Carrots, parsnips, beetroot and radish should all do well sown into well-prepared ground in April.

Other vegetables you can sow outside during April include rocket, rainbow chard, leek, spinach, peas, beans, cabbages and cauliflower.

Lots of folk also pop their chitted potatoes into the ground this month - as well as planting out their asparagus.

And when it comes to herbs, April is often the best month to sow borage. As a plant that originated in warmer climes, it doesn't like frost, so just make sure you check the weather forecast first!

Sowing and growing indoors

April is the month to get both courgette and squash seeds started indoors, in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. They need lots of warmth and moisture to get going, but make sure the compost isn't waterlogged, or the seeds are likely to rot before they germinate.

It's also a great time to start growing tomatoes, sweet peppers, chilli peppers, cucumbers, basil and other windowsill herbs indoors.

Top tips to help wildlife

Introduce native plants to your wildlife pond

Back in February, we suggested you create a wildlife pond in your garden.

With the weather turning a wee bit warmer during April, now is the perfect time to add some aquatic plants!

Try to choose native species if at all possible, as these usually provide maximum benefits for wildlife.

It's also a good idea to go for a mix of submerged oxygenators, floating plants and marginal plants, to create nature-friendly habitat in every area of your pond and help keep the water nice and clear.

This excellent RSPB guide provides lots of advice on which pond plant species to choose.

Keep sowing and growing wild plants for pollinators

You can create a brilliant environment for pollinating insects by sowing the right wildflowers during the spring.

Check back to our March calendar guide for more details.

Use companion plants, not pesticides

If beasties are munching on your vegetables, you might be tempted to tackle them with chemical pesticides.

Unfortunately these chemicals do all sorts of damage to other insects, too, and can harm other wild creatures (for example when they drain into ponds).

To create a wildlife-friendly vegetable patch, consider 'companion planting' instead. This chemical-free approach is all about creating a natural balance between visiting insects and your precious crops!

It can work in a number of different ways, depending on the companion plants you choose to grow.

For example: Nasturtiums nearby make aphids less likely to attack beans; while onions planted next to carrots help ward off carrot fly.

This Gardeners' World guide highlights ten great companion plants to grow.

Finally - beware strimmers!

Garden strimmers are responsible for many, many horrific wildlife injuries and deaths each spring and summer. It honestly doesn't bear thinking about.

Hedgehogs and amphibians are particularly vulnerable, as they often seek shelter in just the sort of longer grass folk are looking to 'tame' as lawns begin to grow.

If you really don't feel there's any alternative to strimming, *please* check the whole area before you get started. On your hands and knees if possible! Thank you so much.

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