Successional sowings of annuals may be made, and thinning should be begun among those which are already coming up. Rigorous thinning is the secret of success in growing nearly all annuals. In one or two cases, such as that of the annual flax, if thinning out is not done very early it should not be too severe, two or three inches being a sufficient distance apart for the plants to stand. The best of the thinnings may be pricked out in empty spaces, and the rest thrown away. Tap-rooted annuals, such as Shirley poppy, do not transplant satisfactorily as a rule.
Perennials may still be planted and divisions made. The pruning of the more delicate roses should be done this month, and all roses will benefit by a good mulch of manure.
The hoe should be in constant use in the flower garden, as weeds will be in active growth, and it is most essential to check them before they produce flower heads. The aeration of the soil, consequent on forking and hoeing, is of the greatest importance to plants at the present stage of growth. Slugs and snails will be very active, and must be kept down.
Amateurs who have no greenhouse may start their dahlias in April, either by putting them in boxes at the beginning of the month, and letting these stand in the sunshine by day and protecting them, or taking them indoors, at night; or they may be started at the end of the month out of doors if the weather is warm. The roots may be divided, or planted entire, according to their size.
Gladiolus corms may be planted this month, putting them in four inches deep, and letting them rest on sand and wood ashes. The Groff hybrids supply a new strain of great value in the garden, while varieties of gladiolus Colvillei are especially useful as cut flowers.
Calceolarias should be gradually hardened off, for if not planted out in good time they often fail to become well established. If treated suitably, they should produce fine blooms (see illustration).
Climbers will require attention, and pruning of all plants that need it should be done now. More water will be required by all ■ plants making spring growth. Camellias and orange trees should be syringed freely and frequently. Forced plants, which ha\ gone over should be removed to a cooler house.
Seeds of half hardy annuals, such as asters, marigolds, stocks, etc., should now be sown, and earlier batches pricked off. Cuttings should be struck of various bedding plants, and the house cleared of any plants for hardening off. Shift on soft and hard wooded plants into larger pots, putting plenty of peat with the soil used for American subjects.
Seeds may now be sown of such tender flowers as verbena, petunia, lobelia, zinnia, celosia, and balsam. Where space is available by reason of discontinuing forced flowers in winter, it may be used for other purposes, such as growing tomatoes. Plenty of air should be admitted to propagating-houses and frames this month.
With increasing sunshine, it will be necessary to shade the stovehouse, except in the case of crotons, which require abundant light to develop their colours. Ferns and selaginellas may be raised for stock, and cuttings may be struck of other stove plants. Shift on established plants where needful. Plenty of furnishing plants should be available this month.
A few dwarf beans of the Ne Plus Ultra variety may be sown after the middle of April. Runner beans must not be sown until the end of this month or the beginning of May.
A succession of broad beans will be best ensured by sowing afresh as soon as the rough leaves of the previous sowing are visible. They should be sown in separate rows. Other crops, such as Brussels sprouts and kale, can then be planted between the rows during the summer. Sowings of these should be made about the second week of the month, also of savoy, which is a most useful vegetable. The smaller plants can be pricked out in vacant ground, and will make a succession later on.
Sow the seeds rather thinly of borecole, the Improved Curled being a good variety, also Cottager, Asparagus, and Labrador. Ihe last-named is useful for a late crop. Make a sowing of broccoli, also another of cauliflower, and put out the young plants of a previous sowing, planting in shallow trenches. Exhibition and Market Favourite are good varieties of Brussels sprouts.
A fine specimen bloom of calceolaria. If properly treated, these flowers attain a great size, and are most effective in a garden
Copyright: James Murray & Son
Plant suckers of globe artichokes a good distance apart in prepared beds. Asparagus should be planted this month in rich, sandy loam. If the ground is well prepared, the beds should not need renewal for at least seven years.
Young plants of a former sowing can be used in this way, or a fresh sowing can be made where the plants are to stand, thinning them to nine inches apart.
Lettuces and other salad plants should be copiously watered in dry weather, 0r their crispness and flavour will be lost. Sowings of carrot, beet, turnip, and radish should be made this month. Seeds of chicory may be sown to produce plants for forcing, and seeds of cucumber for planting in the open air. Plant out seedling leeks at the end of the month. Thin out seedlings of parsnip, but do not transplant, or the roots will only become fanged.
Sow peas at intervals of a fortnight. Any potatoes which are showing should have the soil drawn up to them as a protection against late frosts. Early crops of turnips should be hoed and thinned out. Divide herbs where not already done. Cuttings of shrubby herbs (such as sage and thyme) may be inserted in sandy soil in a shady place, or under a frame or handlight. Prick off tomatoes, and grow them on in a frame near the glass; give them as much air as possible, and shade them in very bright weather. Older plants may be potted on, planting out in borders or in a warm span-roof house. Keep them to a single stem, and stop all laterals after the first leaf.
The second early crop of potatoes should be planted in the first fortnight of April, and the main crop soon afterwards. The sets should be planted in holes three or four inches deep and two feet apart. The ground should be as light as possible, and should not be too much manured.
Cucumbers will require a little shade in bright weather. Top-dress the plants, and keep a good moist atmosphere. Pinch and train tomatoes. Forced asparagus should be coming on quickly. Tie up lettuces, and give them plenty of air.
Sea-kale and rhubarb will be ready for blanching. Remove the framelights from carrots, peas, potatoes, and cauliflowers on all fine days.
The Fruit (tardea
If grafting was not performed last month, it may be done at the present time. Look over grafts made last month, and sec if any cracking has occurred, filling up the cracks with grafting-clay.
Fruit-trees and bushes should be cleared of suckers, and the soil hoed between them. Vines may be layered this month, which will be done by detaching a healthy shoot and making a slit half way through it two or three inches long, and underneath a bud. Bend the layer into the ground or into a pot, fix it open by a hooked peg, and tie it to a stake. The layer should be ready to transplant in November.
Protect fruit blossom from frost at night, using a covering of scrim or canvas. Disbud gradually apricots, peaches, and nectarines.
Slugs and snails must be trapped constantly, also caterpillars. If possible, the eggs of the latter should be destroyed.
Withhold water from pines after the fruits show colour, and in using the syringe avoid wetting fruits and flowers. Increase the temperature for swelling fruits and flowers, especially towards the end of the day. and keep the atmosphere charged with
Thin grapes as they become fit, and do not allow the hands to touch the fruit.
The border should be kept moist. and should be given in full sunshine. Pinch out sub-laterals. Tie down the shoots late vines, and pinch the leaders. The night temperature need not exceed 650.
Tie in fig-trees on terllises, and pinch back to five leaves. Syringe often until ripening begins, but while the trees are flower the atmosphere should be kept more dry. Night temperature as for vines.
The peach-house should this month be ventilated early, and syringed twice a day with soft water of the temperature of the house. If there is any sign of mildew. use sulphur in the syringing-water. Fumigate against aphides. Feed at inter\ with liquid manure. The night temperature should be 650 to 700.
Melon-houses should be kept warm and moist, and the growth should be kept thin. Let the whole crop - of four to six fruits - be set as nearly as possible altogether.
Fresh relays of strawberries should be brought on constantly. Thin the flowers to about twelve on a plant, keep the house airy, feed with liquid manure, and syringe - to keep down red spider - until the fruit begins to ripen.