To-Dos in April

More spuds you like

The rest of your potato planting can be carried out this month but have you chitted, that is, let the tubers sprout little green shoots, in a cool bright room in the house?  A lot of people do but we rarely bother.  Commercial growers don’t and we consider the advantage gained in growing time to be minimal.  Of course, if you’ve ordered your tubers early in the year there is every chance that they may well have already chitted without any special intervention.  Plant them with the shoots upwards, but whatever way, you’ll soon find the green shoots pushing through the top of the soil.  Keep ridging them up with soil to ensure a larger crop, and also to protect them from late frosts, an important consideration if like us you’ve suffered freezing conditions in early May.

Propagate to Accumulate

Now is a great time to increase stock of a number of your favourite plants.  Hostas which have formed large clumps can now be split and the clumps spread around to fill any empty pots or damp shady spots in the garden.  Any overwintered dahlias in the greenhouse that have started sprouting can be propagated by taking a sharp knife and removing the shoots just below soil level.  Push them halfway into a pot filled with gritty compost and they will soon root, creating little plants that can be potted on in six weeks time and then planted out where there’s every chance they’ll flower that summer. 

Sagging Sedum

Do you suffer from sagging sedums?  We do.  As the plants of Sedum spectabile (now renamed Hylotelephium spectabile - but we just can’t let go) get larger they tend to flop on the ground looking unattractive, and sometimes swamping their near neighbours.  There’s a simple solution and remember where you heard it first. Simply dig up the clump and immediately replant them in the same hole.  What you’ve done is effectively root prune them which will rein-in over enthusiastic growth and keep them upright and less invasive of the surrounding plants.  Large clumps can be split at the same time and distributed to any gaps at the front of the border.  No remedial attempts at staking, no shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.  There.  We told you it was simple!