April New Zealand gardener tips
April New Zealand gardener tips.
For the New Zealand Gardener April is a busy month. We’re well into Autumn now with the days getting noticeably shorter and cooler.
The fruit harvest is bountiful, if you’ve got your bird protection sorted out! Remember to taste your fruit before heavy picking since it’s the last stages of ripening when the bulk of the sugar goes into the fruit giving it that sweet flavour that we naturally enjoy.
Daylight saving ends in April, making that evening gardening a bit shorter.
The Autumn showers are refreshing parched soils. Hooray free garden watering if you’ve got volumetric water charges! If you’re fortunate enough to live in part of the country where there’s no volumetric water charges be vigilant to keep it that way.
With some time left for a flush of growth before winter sets in there’s plenty that can be done in the garden this month. You can get a few gardening jobs done over Easter and still have time to relax and enjoy what you’ve created.
Tasks For April New Zealand gardener tips
It’s a good idea to get in the habit of going around your garden each day with a bucket to pick any fruit or produce that’s about to get past it’s “best by date:’
Hopefully the natural rainfall will be adequate to revive water stressed plants, but in many cases they will need additional irrigation. Especially if your plant leaves are wilting.
There are many herbaceous perennials, trees and shrubs that can be propagated from semi-mature tip cuttings. You can select young strong shoots from the lower outer extremities of the plant. Make a clean cut below a node. Generally each cutting should be between 100mm and 200mm long. Remove the leaves on the lower 2/3rds, make a small scrape wound about 10mm from the base of the cutting on two sides. If you want to increase the percentage of successful cuttings that grow roots and don’t mind spending some money then dipping them in rooting hormone will improve the percentage of cuttings that grow roots. Then insert the cutting into a container filled with clean pumice sand or coarse sand. Water the sand and place a plastic bag over the cuttings and place them in a bright warm , location without direct sunlight. Ensure they remain moist until they’ve got decent roots. I.e. when you can see them growing out the bottom of the pot. Don’t be tempted to pull them out to check for roots because you’ll probably break them off.. Some cuttings will even grow roots when placed directly in to a container of water. The water needs to be changed regularly to avoid becoming putrid. Be patient you may have to wait weeks. If you get a 25% success rate consider you have done well. Once they have strong roots, pot them up to a larger pot.
Mulches of organic matter such as bark or compost will also help conserve soil moisture and provide nutrients to the plants.
If you’re soil is dry it’s a good time to weed because once uprooted most weeds will die. Many weeds are seeding now if you let the seeds fall on your soil you can get more weeds for years.
Ants can be a problem if you don’t keep knocking them back with baits.
Try to have a walk around you garden each day to harvest your produce when it’s at it’s best and then eat or process it promptly.
In warm northern and central districts continue picking your beans, celery, Chinese cabbage, cape gooseberries, cucumbers, eggplant, marrows, peppers and tomatoes.
In colder central and southern areas the harvest of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, spinach, swedes, and turnips continues.
When your tomato plant dies from cold conditions and has a number of green fruit still on it you can hang in a dry sunny location which will often allow the remaining fruit to ripen.
Finish harvesting your kumara, Jerusalem artichokes, and pumpkins. Store them in a dark dry location.
Collecting seeds –
Many herbs and vegetables will be going to seed now, some hybrid plants will not come true from seed. But a lot of seeds can be harvested for immediate or future sowing. The easiest way is to let the seed head dry off and become brown and harvest the seed before they drop off. Then dry them and if storing them they can be kept in a labelled paper bag in a cool dry dark location.
You can still get some good growth and production at this time if there’s enough soil moisture and nutrients. So continue applying dry fertiliser in small amounts to moist soil and water in if needed. Or use liquid fertiliser at the dilution rate recommended. I generally prefer organic fertilisers such as animal manures that increase earth worm populations and healthy soil micro organisms. Use a little and often is the general rule with fertilisers.
Tree roots –
Keep an eye out for tree roots and chop them off when you see them because nearby trees will often send their roots into the moist fertilised vege garden and compete with your veges for moisture and nutrients. .
Continue planting a succession of vegetables at a rate that suits your consumption, so you have an ongoing supply. When sowing seeds or planting seedlings imagine the size or the mature plant and allow that much space between each plant.
Veges to plant or sow –
April New Zealand Gardener
Northern and central temperate climate areas
Broad beans, broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cress, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, potato tubers, radish, shallots, spinach, turnips.
Southern and central cold climate areas
Broad beans, cress, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions, radish, shallots, spinach.
Sow – parsley dill, rocket, upland cress.
Continue harvesting for fresh use. If your herbs are going to seed consider either storing it for future sowing or sowing the mature seed directly back into the garden. The latter is easiest with parsley dill and rocket. Herb leaves can be dried on trays in a sheltered sunny location with occasional turning until dry. Then store them in an air tight container for future use.
Pip and Stone Fruit –
Many apple and pear varieties are ripen now so pick them when a sample tastes good.
Remove any fruit that have dropped on the ground and dispose off site, as these can be where insects can over winter or become a source of future infection of diseases.
If you’ve started a spray program earlier in the season you will need be careful to read the label specifying the safe withholding period. That is the period recommended to lapse between spraying and harvesting produce, because many sprays are toxic to humans!
You should be able to see the next seasons crop forming. Give the trees an application of fertiliser and keep the soils moist.
Feijoa – Harvesting is occurring now. The easiest way to determine ripeness is to let them drop on the ground or shake the tree so the ripe ones drop off.
Berry fruits – The harvest is over so prune out the old wood and tie the new growth to a support.
Kiwifruit – Are becoming ripe and can be picked over a period as needed. To get them to ripen once picked you can place them in a plastic bag with apples or bananas which give off ethylene a naturally occurring gas that helps ripen fruit.
Raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, and loganberries – The harvest is over, so prune out old wood and tie new growth to a support.
Strawberries – April is the main season for planting out new strawberries. Prepare the soil well by digging in compost and animal manure.
Tamarilos – Ripen around this time and are ready when they have a good all round colour or have dropped off.
Passion fruit – The late harvest can continue, so pick the fruit as in changes to a dark colour. You can plant new young passion fruit plants after preparing the soil by digging in compost and manure. They like a north facing location and require the support of a structure such as a fence or wall with a suitable support system included.
Green Houses/Glass houses –
Regular watering is needed to keep the soil moist. Keep a planting a succession of seedlings as space becomes available. Continue controlling any snails and slugs. Good ventilation is also important, to avoid too much humidity that can cause fungus infections. Remove any weeds, decaying matter and bolting plants.
Pot and Container Grown Plants
Growth is generally slowing down. When tuberous begonias die off you can store them over winter by turning them on their side so they don’t get water as this can rot them. Then in spring ( September ) turn them upright and water and presto then should return to life.Watering is generally reduced as growth reduces or the dormant phase starts.
Dust with a damp cloth or spray and remove dead leaves.
Control any insect or diseases. If you find mealy bugs on the roots, you can submerge the pot into a solution of pesticide to kill them.
April New Zealand gardener tips for the Ornamental Garden
Flower seeds that can be sown:
in Northern and central temperate climate – ageratum, alyssum, aquilegia, arctotis, bellis, calceolaria, calendula, canytuft, Canterbury Bells, carnation, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, galardia, godetia, gypsophila, holyhock, honesty, impatiens, larkspur, linaria, livingston daisy, lobelia, lupin, french marigold, mignonoette, nemisia, nemophila, nigella, painted daisy, pansy, polyanthus, poor mans orchid, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, snap dragon, statice, stock, strawflower, sweet pea, viola, Virginian stock, wallflower.
In cold southern climates –
ageratum, alyssum, aquilegia, arctotis, bellis, calendula, canytuft, Canterbury Bells, carnation, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, galardia, godetia, gypsophila, holyhock, honesty, impatiens, larkspur, linaria, livingston daisy, lobelia, lupin, french marigold, mignonoette, nemisia, nemophila, nigella, painted daisy, pansy, polyanthus, poor mans orchid, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, snap dragon, statice, stock, strawflower, sweet pea, viola, Virginian stock, wallflower.
Plant seedlings of: ageratum, alyssum, aquilegia, arctotis, bellis, calceolaria, canytuft, calendula, Canterbury Bells, cineraria, cornflower, cyclmen, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, galardia, godetia, gypsophila, holyhock, honesty, impatiens, larkspur, linaria, livingston daisy, lobelia, lupin, french marigold, mignoette, nasturtium, nemisia, nemophila, nigella, pansy, polyanthus, poor mans orchid, iceland poppy, primula, scabosia, snap dragon, spider flower, statice, stock, strawflower, sweet pea, verbena, viola, Virginian stock, wallflower.
Bulbs and tubers –
Finish planting winter and spring flowering bulbs.
Bulbs & tubers to finish planting –
Anomone, babiana, cyclamen, daffodil, freesia, hyacinth, iris, jonquils, lachenalia, ranunculus, scillia, snowflake, spraxia, tritonia, tulip, watsonia.
Remove old dead heads ( flower heads with no petals ), to encourage the production of more flowers or settle down for winter dormancy. If you want to collect your own seeds, wait till the seed heads go brown then pick and dry them, then crush the head to release the seeds, label them and store them in a paper bag in a dry location until ready to sow. The quickest and simplest method is to twist the seed heads off with your fingers, but the best way is to use secateurs and cut back to the next growth bud.
Herbaceous Perennials – When they’ve finished flowering they can be trimmed back. Many can also be divided up and replanted else where.
If you’ve started a spray program it’s best to continue spraying regularly as the weather permits. Remove any dead flower heads unless it’s a once only flowering rose and you want the hips for decoration or jam.
Remove weeds, while they’re small.
Trees and Shrubs jobs for April New Zealand gardener tips
When the soil is moist from rain you can plant trees and shrubs. Plan where and what you will plant. Prepare the soil before it gets water logged with winter rain.
Lawn jobs for April New Zealand gardener tips.
In warm northern districts lawn seed can be sown. You will need to keep the soil moist. It’s a good idea to rotary hoe areas where new grass is to sown to provide a good depth of loose soil for new roots.
Mow existing lawn as required depending on the growth. The grass should be between 20 to 25 mm after you’ve cut it.
Compost jobs for April New Zealand gardener tips
Turn your compost heaps so organic matter gets evenly decomposed. Continue building heaps and when they consist of predominantly unrecognisable matter they are ready to be spread around bare soil as a mulch, or dug into the soil.
Make new compost heaps by incorporating dead leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps with a sprinkling of lime and animal manure etc.
From April New Zealand gardener
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