What to Do
If you are living in an area prone to frost, be sure to pick up some frost protection from your local garden centre before winter arrives in full force. Planning in advance will allow you to make sure you have all those delicate plants of yours protected before you are caught off guard.
Mulching your beds will also help to keep the soil temperature slightly warmer during those chilly nights we get in our winter months.
You will benefit in the long run by spending a little time in your garden, cleaning out the dead plants and sweeping up the fallen leaves. (You should add your garden remains to the compost heap.)
Your containers and window boxes will also appreciate a generous layer of new potting soil how you can do this is by removing about one third of the top surface that is in the pot and replace it with the new soil.
Climbing sweet peas must be trained you can look at using a wire fastened to the wall or a trellis; removing all unnecessary growth at the base of the plants will ensure tidy growth habits. Keep them well watered until your plants are established.
It’s time to repot potted plants that have outgrown their containers. Choose a pot two sizes bigger than their original home is a good rule of thumb. Carefully remove the plant’s you plan to repot from their old homes. Cut back any dead or straggly roots and tease out tangled roots aka loosen that root ball. Place it in the new pot with a fresh helping of potting soil, bonemeal and some liquid plant food. Firm the plant in place and water well.
What to Plant
April is the perfect time to buy and plant out primula, poppy, pansy and gazania seedlings. Keep the seedling trays once you have planted out your winter colour as they are perfect for sowing any seeds you buy in spring.
Plant bulbs! April is the perfect time to plant a selection of South Africa’s indigenous bulbs such as watsonia, freesia, ixia, chincherinchee and Sparaxis and non-indigenous bulbs such as daffodils, irises, tulips and hyacinths.
Plant out your perennial plants, such as lupins, Shasta daisies, and aquilegias.
Planting new roses now will allow them to ‘settle-in’ during winter and will also give them a head start when the new season kicks in. Make sure that you continue to spray your roses against fungal diseases such as mildew and black spot.
April is an excellent planting season and transplanting of all trees and shrubs. The worst of the summer heat is over. Before transplanting trees or shrubs, Before transplanting trees or shrubs, prepare the soil in the new position by adding plenty of compost and fertiliser eg 2:3:2. Water the tree and the hole where it will be planted well before transplanting.
For the veggies that can be sown now include peas, parsnips, carrots, onion Texas Grano (must be a short day variety), beetroot Bulls Blood (for the leaves which will give extra vitamins in winter) and broccoli.
For a winter production of healthy herbs start sowing seeds in your window sill containers. All that is needed for a good crop is high light levels and a reasonable indoor temperature. Try guard against leaving these containers on windowsill over night as glass is not a good insulator and cold will affect the plants.
What to Spray
Garden pests are still out and about at this time of the year feasting on new growth. What you should be looking out for are the following: Aphids will still be around this time of the year, although their numbers will be less than in spring. Give your flowers a close inspection and if there are still a few around control with Neem oil or Plant Protector.
Snails and slugs are active in March, devastating leaves on plants and ruining their appearance. Sluggem and Snail bait are just two of the products which you can pick up from your local garden centre.
Autumn is the peak season for leaf miner. Leaf miner’s cause twisting and curling on new leaves. Control with regular applications of Eco Insect Control SC.
Take a close look at the plants in the garden, now that the leaves are starting to thin out on deciduous trees, shrubs and roses, it’s a good time to see if there are any scale insects on the stems and branches. Scale is a sap sucking insect that can cause severe damage to many types of plants in the garden. They can be eradicated by spraying with Malasol or Oleum in the cooler months.
Also keep a look out for ant movement, as they are the main culprits for transferring disease around the garden. Sprinkle Ant Dust around their holes and along their trails. This is one of the best times to attack these problems.
What to Feed
Feed your winter flowering plants such as Hellebores to encourage them to give a dramatic winter show later in the season when little else is brave enough to flower. Your local Tuingenoot garden centre can supply you with information on the best fertiliser to use.
Digging over your vegetable beds now will benefit your winter crops. Add in a layer of compost and fork it into the ground to a depth of about 30cm along with a handful of organic bone meal or general purpose fertiliser 2:3:2 is a good choice. This will add vital nutrients to the soil and will encourage stronger root growth for all those winter veggies.
When cyclamen buds start to appear on last year’s plants – start feeding them every second week (feeding is crucial for cyclamens to re-flower).
Feed your aloes and flowering succulents for a good winter show.
You can also look at feeding your lawns with 2.3.2
Feed sweet peas with a liquid fertiliser like Nitrosol or Seagrove, and train them up onto a net or lattice.
Feed all your citrus trees with a general fertiliser and a handful of Epsom salts per tree.
April is not too late to be sowing seeds for great winter gardens, and nearly all cool season varieties will thrive if sown early in the month.
Flowers that can still be sown are the African daisy, Mesembryanthemums, Winter Scatter Packs and the Indigenous Scatter Pack Mix. Individual varieties are Virginian stocks, calendula and felicia.