April is a busy month in the gardening calendar with loads more sowing to do including herb and vegetable seeds as well as annual flowers. It is also the time to start planting pot-grown perennials out in the garden.
Annuals are plants that die back at the end of their growing season. Their lifespan from seed through to flower, and back to seed happens in one season, and always within a year, usually much less. You will need to re-plant annuals every year. Flowering annuals are useful for producing bright and vibrant colours and perfumes and for filling gaps in beds and containers. Try sowing one of the many varieties of marigold, or sunflowers, sweet peas, or cornflowers. All are easy to grow.
Perennials come back year after year. They die down in the winter and lie dormant until the following spring when they will burst into life once again. Don’t dig them up and throw them away in the winter mistakenly thinking them dead! When choosing a perennial you need to consider that it will be a permanent plant, however large or small it is, and part of the structure of your garden or planter. Some perennials will flower right through the growing season.
Edible plants are also treated as annuals or perennials. Each year you will need to sow new tomatoes, sweetcorn, peppers, courgettes and squashes to name but a few as these are annual plants. Root vegetables like carrot, beetroot, parsnip and so on are also treated as annual plants in the vegetable garden. Sorrel and perpetual spinach are perennial plants meaning you only need to plant them once and they will come back and provide you with a good crop year after year.
April is also the time for “hardening off”, another gardening term, which means acclimatising your indoor seed-grown plants to the outside temperatures ready to be planted out permanently when the weather warms up. Put your small plants outdoors during the day and bring them in again at night. Become a weather-watcher and look out for night frosts – they can kill your young or tender plants – and wait until any danger of frost has passed before planting out.
Text and Photography: Scarlett Cannon