April is an exciting month on the allotment, the seed sowing can finally get underway and the warm sunshine along with the longer days can’t help but make us smile! Sadly, as the days lengthen and temperatures rise, so do the weeds! Even though the day temperatures can be warm, there is always a risk of night frosts, which can wreak havoc on more tender plants. We can protect early outdoor sowings with fleece, but it’s best to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and hang back a few days if frosts are expected.

Delicious April Harvests

WHAT CAN WE HARVEST FROM THE ALLOTMENT IN APRIL?

Our purple sprouting broccoli really sprang into life in April and was absolutely delicious, especially when used in ‘broccoli and blue cheese’ soup!

A white bowl, filled with purple sprouting broccoli

Seeds to sow in April

HERE ARE SOME IDEAS FOR SEEDS YOU CAN START SOWING IN APRIL

Sow Outdoors

SOW OUTSIDE STRAIGHT INTO THE SOIL

It’s time to plant the seed potatoes! Weather depending, I try to have my first earlies planted by mid-April, and the maincrop by the end of the month. Keep an eye out for frosts and be prepared to cover young shoots as they emerge from the ground. If they are close to the surface, a frost can still nip them, so it’s best to either earth them up or cover them with fleece. Don’t worry if they are checked by an unexpected frost, they should recover, but it will slow their growth for a few weeks.

Continue to plant onion sets and depending on the weather it could be a brilliant time to sow some carrot seeds. They need warmer temperatures and moisture to germinate, so it could be worth covering with some fleece to heat the ground before sowing, and to keep the temperature levels up for germination. Slugs love young carrot seedlings too! If nothing shows in a few weeks, try sowing some more. I find carrots are a bit all-or-nothing, but they are definitely worth a the effort!

In the Greenhouse

IN THE GREENHOUSE OR COLDFRAME

Don’t forget successional sowings of beetroot, parsnips, swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, spring onions, radish, turnips. Smaller sowings every 3-4 weeks help to avoid a glut

Peas absolutely thrive in the cooler, wetter months that our spring climate usually brings, so I try and make sure my peas are sown into modules by mid-April. Then I direct sow a few gaps in May if needed.

Make the final sowings of broadbeans this month

If you have celeriac to sow, so it ASAP. It needs really long season.

You can still sow brassicas, both early and autumn varieties. It’s also a brilliant time to sow herbs, such as parsley, coriander and dill.

Indoors (or with warmth)

THESE SEEDLINGS NEED A LITTLE EXTRA WARMTH, SOW THEM INSIDE AND LET THEM GROW ON INSIDE

Towards the end of April, if you have space indoors or a heated greenhouse, you can start to think about sowing the more tender crops. These include tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, squash, pumpkins and sweetcorn. It’s best to err on the side of caution, as these crops grow really fast, and if they become pot bound, it can really stunt their growth, whereas seedlings started a little later soon catch up. I usually try to sow the other tender crops during the first week of May. Remember mice love squash/courgette/sweetcorn seeds and much as they love pea seeds, so either protect them or let them germinate indoors

If you started your peppers & aubergines indoors earlier in the year, hold back from transferring to the greenhouse just yet if the forecast is -5 degrees Celsius. These plants love warmth, so keep them inside if you can, and pot them on if needed so they don’t become root-bound.

Plant out

THESE HARDY SEEDLINGS CAN SURVIVE A MILD FROST, BUT PROTECT WITH FLEECE IF YOU CAN

You can begin to plant out brassica seedlings, such as cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, calabrese and cauliflower in April, but make sure they have been hardened off first to avoid a shock.

I also plant out my turnips in April and cover them with fleece, mostly to protect them from the wind and birds, but they do enjoy a bit of extra heat.

I have planted out beetroot and radish too in April. Beware cooler temperatures though, my beetroot turned purple this year but is recovering nicely and has some lovely green growth.

I start planting my peas out too towards the end of April. I am lucky to say that mine don’t usually need netting to protect from the birds, though it’s always a bit of a risk! Pigeons are hungry at this time of the year, it’s safer to protect young pea seedlings while they get well established.

Jobs to do in April

A FEW THINGS YOU CAN BE GETTING ON WITH IN APRIL

Protect strawberries from a frost

If strawberry flowers succumb to the frost, the central reproductive bud turns black and that bud will not produce a strawberry. Strawberry plants continue to produce flowers and fruit during the flowering season, so don’t worry if you do loose a few fruit to the frosts. You can see an healthy yellow bud and a black bud in the photo below