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Gardening in April

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It’s April and there’s a definite chill in the air, the mornings seem darker and we’re finding ourselves fantasising about hibernation more and more every day. Autumn is upon us and all around colours in nature are changing from lively happy greens to more subdued yellows, oranges and reds. Just because deciduous trees are losing their leaves and we’re staying indoors more often, it does not mean that we can’t still spend relaxing, yet productive, time in the garden. 

Since South Africa does not have the same climate all over (winter and summer rainfall regions, for example) the same gardening advice is not recommended for everywhere about everything.  Here are some recommendations for each area to make sure the time you spend in the garden is worthwhile. 

April in the Eastern Cape sees pests like the amaryllis worm and the lawn caterpillar becoming very active, so make sure that you monitor the situation; if you spot them, visit your local nursery for tips on how to get rid of them.

During autumn the Freestate remains dry and experiences a lot of frost. What this means for Freestaters is that a) they should get frost protection for their plants and b) they should take this opportunity to use fallen leaves to make compost for the coming seasons. Making a compost pile from leaves is probably easier than you imagined. Collect fallen leaves, shred them with your lawn mower, place them in a bin liner, remember to add something rich in nitrogen (like manure) to the mix and that the leaves are wet, make holes in the liner with a knife, tie up the liner and store for up to two years.

Slugs and snails take over Gauteng gardens this time of the year, so make sure you set beer traps to get rid of these slimy visitors. Make a beer trap or “slug pub” by getting a deep container (like a plastic cup) and “planting” it in your garden so that the mouth of the cup is at ground level, pour beer into the cup until it’s about 80% full and remember to remove snails and slugs daily.

If you live in KwaZulu Natal and have always wanted to plant lettuce, now is the perfect time, it is also a great time to get your weeds under control. In the Western Cape April is the last chance to plant Bokbaai vygies, indigenous to the area, as they bloom in June and July, if the lawn’s not looking too great, make sure you plant lawn seeds now.
If you’d like to add some colour to your garden, the following plants can be planted in all areas of the country that are not affected by frost; African daisy, marigold, chrysanthemums, kingfisher daisy, sweetpea and pansy. If you’d rather plant something with a purpose, other than being really pretty, try to plant some carrots, spring onions or broad beans.

Not brave enough to venture outdoors? Some great indoor plants are cyclamens, chrysanthemums and poinsettias. Whether you’re staying inside or working in the yard outside, enjoy it and perhaps even use it as time to spend with the people that you care about.