Allotment monthly task calendar for April
Weather trends in April
Tasks to do in April

Click here to return to home page

Jobs to do on your allotment or vegetable plot in April

All allotment and vegetable gardening tasks are weather dependant, so let's first consider what the weather is like in April.

The weather in April

General trends

Remember the old saying 'March winds, April showers, brings forth May flowers'. Well the saying is quite right, April's weather is usually characterised by a mixture of sunshine and showers.

Spring should now be in evidence, daffodils and spring bulbs should be in flower (indeed, early daffs will be finishing) and the trees will be laden with blossom.

Regional differences in the spring weather

The are likely to be marked regional differences depending on where you live in the country. However, in northern England, the spring is about a week behind southern regions, and in Scotland it can be two to four weeks behind. On the other hand, in mild southwest regions, the weather can be much warmer, and spring can start a week earlier than everywhere else in the country.

The more frequent sunny days put people in the mood for gardening. It is now possible to sow and plant most vegetables and flowers, and even to begin harvesting a few edible crops.

Temperature

Average daytime temperatures for the UK in spring are typically above 11°C (52°F), with regions varying by 4 or 5°C (6-8°F) around this mean. Maximum temperatures in Scotland generally hover around 10°C (50°F), whereas southern England maximum temperatures are about 12-14°C (54-57°F). At night, temperatures across the UK average 3.8°C (39°F), generally varying between 2.5 and 4-5°C (36-41°F).

Risk of frost

Don't be lulled into a false sense of security by the warm sunny days. Vegetable growers can be caught out by frosty nights. On average there are four frosty nights in April. In Scotland the risk is much higher and in the South West, the risk is minimal.

Make sure you protect your newly sprouting plants with a thick layer of fleece is frost is forecast. Magnolia flowers and Acer leaves can be damaged permanently by frost.

Rain

April showers are common this month. But do not be deceived by the apparent supply of rain water. After dry winters, ground water reserves can be very low, and showery rain will tend to run off or evaporate before it can penetrate the water table and replenish rivers and wells.

On sunny days, you may find the soil is drying out in all but the wettest and coldest areas. Northwest parts of the UK can still expect around 100mm (4in) of rain, but if you live in a dry region like East Anglia or southeast England you may need to start watering.

Wind

In April, you can look forward to the warm southerly winds replacing the cold northerlies that can bring snow and ice.

Light

In April, the days are now much longer. Most areas can expect around 150 hours of sunshine, ranging from about 120 hours in a dull year to about 190 hours in a sunny year.

April weather sayings/April weather lore

April showers bring May flowers.

If early April is foggy,
Rain in June will make lanes boggy.

When April blows its horn,
'Tis good for hay and corn.

April wet - good wheat.

Till April's dead, change not a thread.

A cold April The barn will fill.

If the first three days of April be foggy, it prognosticates that there will be a flood in June.

VEGETABLE GROWING JOBS FOR APRIL

At a glance

* Sow onions, beet, winter cabbage & Broccoli Onion - Image
* Sow your first carrots
* Start succession sowing of peas, beans, lettuce & radish
* Finish planting of late potatoes and earth up earlies
* At the end of the month plant cauliflowers

Outdoor sowings:
Crops to sow outdoors or under cloches include broad beans, beetroots, Brussels sprouts, summer cabbages, leeks, lettuces, hardy peas and radishes.

Tomatoes:

Tomatoes are one vegetable no allotment should be without. Many varieties can be grown outside in summer, with some even thriving in patio pots or hanging baskets. The earliest crops will develop on plants grown under glass, ideally in a heated greenhouse, but an unheated one will do. Tomatoes are easy to grow from seed, so start sowing now to raise indoor varieties. Sow in a heated propagator to encourage quick germination or grow on a windowsill. To raise outdoor varieties, sow later in March, potting on as plants grow. Plant them out in early June. Sowings can be made in April, but plants will flower and fruit far later than those that were sown earlier.


Strawberries
Fruit Strawberries can be planted out now, it's best to remove flowers in the first year as you conserve strength for growth and gain larger crops in subsequent years. Choose several different varieties to spread the harvest season from June until late summer. Rooted runners, sometimes called crowns, are best obtained from specialist fruit nurseries. Plants should be spaced 45cm (18in) apart in rows about 75cm (2.5ft) apart. The plants don't last forever so you need to rotate them ever three to five years. Some people plant through a layer of black polythene to control weeds. Covering strawberries with cloches will encourage earlier flowering, but you'll need to open the cloches during the day to allow insects in to pollinate the flowers.

Potatoes
Set out seed potatoes in trays and stand in a cool, bright position for shoots to form. Early varieties can be planted in March, but plant main-crop potatoes later in April. Potatoes can be planted in deep drills or in individual planting holes, with 5cm of soil mounded over the top. Alternatively, plant them through slits in black polythene mulch. If frost threatens, then cover the shoots with horticultural fleece to protect them.

Shallots
Plant shallot sets in March, spacing them at 15cm (6in) intervals in rows 30cm (12in) apart. When the conditions have warmed up in late March, onion sets can be planted out into a firm seedbed. Planting trees Finish planting bare-rooted fruit trees by the end of March.

Fruit trees
Container-grown trees can be planted out at any time of year. Early blossom Protect flowers on trained or compact fruit trees on frosty nights. Remove covers in the day for insects to reach the blooms. Hand-pollinate the flowers of peaches and nectarines with a soft brush. Outdoor trees will also benefit from a fortnightly spray against peach-leaf curl.

Rhubarb
Cover rhubarb with forcing jars or old buckets to exclude light and encourage long tender stalks.

Celery
Sow seed in pots in the greenhouse during March and April to raise plants that you can plant out from May to June.