Gardening in April
In April you get that spring feeling - everything is sprouting, growing, greening and there is a lot to do in the garden.
The freshly sown beds need to be regularly cleared of weeds to ensure that the new plants have good starting conditions, as grass and chickweed usually grow faster than carrots, spinach or anything else you have already planted in the bed. If you know a little bit about wild herbs, you can also use them for salads or a wild herb soup, because now in April there are not many fresh vegetables available. Especially the local wild herbs ground ivy, chickweed, sorrel, dandelion, goutweed and young nettles taste good and are full of vitamins and minerals.
When your seeds have germinated, you should give the young plants enough space to grow by carefully separating them. Radishes, carrots, spinach and salads like to have about 3 cm of space. When the weather becomes milder at the end of April, you can also plant kohlrabi, fennel, celery, leek and lettuce outdoors. However, before you finally plant them out, it is better to harden the young plants by putting them outdoors during the day. It is best not to put them in full sunlight either, as they are not yet used to strong sunlight. Choose late afternoon or an overcast day for final planting. Remember to give the plants enough space for their later size: leek about 40 x 15 cm, salads and kohlrabi 25 x 30 cm, large cabbages such as head cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower as well as celery at least 40 x 40 cm and fennel 40 x 25 cm.
If you have not already sown in March, you can now sow outdoors all summer salads, all types of cabbage, kohlrabi, radish, carrots, peas, leek, chard, parsnips, beetroot, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, garlic, rhubarb and fennel. Among herbs, the seeds of parsley, chives, peppermint, rocket, oregano and lovage are now added to the bed. Among flowers, it is now time to sow asters, begonias, dahlias, cornflowers, golden poppies, Nigella, snapdragons, Clarkia, cloves, marigolds, french marigolds (they also keep root pests away from the vegetable patch) and coneflower.
Remember: freshly sown beds must always be kept moist. Only when the first leaves appear the soil may dry out superficially.
Now is the latest time to grow warmth-loving vegetables and herbs on the windowsill: pumpkin, melons, zucchini, cucumbers, sweet corn, basil, lavender, thyme, tarragon and hyssop. Wait to plant them out until after the ice saints, when any danger of night frosts has passed.
In April at the latest, strawberry beds are also weeded. Make space for the strawberry plants by separating them on 30 x 60 cm and then distribute a suitable berry fertilizer or cattle dung between the plants. To protect the later ripening berries, apply a layer of mulch from flowering time onward.
A mulch layer in the vegetable garden is generally helpful. It reduces the growth of weeds, and if you use fine bark mulch, straw, leaves or lawn cuttings, it improves the soil structure and the water balance of the soil. You can also use mulch foil, mulch paper or a weed control mat (e.g. made of sheep`s wool). The mulch layer prevents the soil from drying out too quickly and earthworms and other soil insects are active right up to the surface. Thus the soil becomes softer and crumbly and can store more water.