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Planning Retirement Online

The vegetable garden

April 2011

RhubarbApril is a tricky month for gardeners, one minute warm sunshine is beating down on you, and in the blink of an eye hailstones are battering the seedlings into the ground.

Unprotected plants can also be killed off with frosts, so don't get too bold and don’t leave them unprotected just yet. The increased warmth and light brings an explosion of growth to the garden, and with the unpredictable weather you should make the most of dry spells and get your seeds sown when you can. A spell of bad weather could cause havoc with the planting schedule, so continue with the preparation of the ground for sowing, and continue to hoe between over-wintering crops.

Warm the soil where you can, using cloches or polythene and early plantings can then be made, but remember to continue to protect and harden off the plants sensibly as the season progresses.

Rhubarb can be forced now for an early crop of sweet, tender, bright red stems. (See ours, above) Place a little straw over the sprouting rhubarb crown and cover the whole thing with an upturned waste bin or similar to cut out the light. This will force the rhubarb into a spurt of growth and within about three weeks the stems will be ready to pick. Only do this with well established crowns over two years old.

If not already done, cut down last year’s fruited raspberry canes to ground level. The new canes which grew last year should be then be tied in to the straining wires to protect from being snapped by wind. Keep the old canes, which can be used for supports for peas and beans or similar.

Complete the planting of any bare rooted fruit trees, fruit canes and fruit bushes and continue to water though the first season until well established. Strawberry bed preparation should be completed by now ready for planting new plants. Dig well rotted compost or manure into the soil but don’t overdo the fertility otherwise it will promote too much lush foliage.

Check the grease bands around fruit trees and renew as required
Check the fruit stores for rotting fruit, or attacks by rodents and clear out any that has been damaged before the rot spreads.


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