April is a busy month as Spring is now well underway and our windowsills, green houses and cold frames will be bursting at the seams with seedlings and hope of bountiful harvest yet to come.
Jack frost could still scupper things though, so a really careful eye on the weather forecast is absolutely key.
The soil, well mulched, is ready to burst with life again. But this is also the 'hungry gap' a strange time of year when the winter stores are depleted and the new growth is yet to happen. Only the most properly planned of gardeners will eat well this month.
I don't have greenhouse, so really favour anything that can be sown direct. It's always a risk as slugs and snails are more prone to wreck seedlings in the open ground, but it's also about now that I apply nematodes to give those tiny plants a fighting chance.
Broad beans, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, leeks, lettuces, parsnips, peas, radishes, turnips, swiss chard, beetroot are all things I sow direct in April.
There is no one easy answer I am afraid. It's a multi-pronged approach that works and also just an acceptance that there will be come collateral damage.
First, let's talk about slug pellets. They are first on list because they are probably what comes to people's minds first and actually should be the last resort. There are two types of the nasty blue pellets. One is made from Metaldehyde and you absolutely 100% need to avoid ever using this. It is totally devastating to other wildlife and is actually set to be banned by 2022 (why so long I have no idea). Studies have shown they pose an unacceptable risk to birds, fish and mammals.
Where I live there is a large hedghog population and local hedgehog hospitals are often posting photos of hedghogs dying because of Metaldehyde poisoning. This shit does not need to be released into the eco system. No lettuce is worth it.
The other type of slug pellet is made from Ferric phosphate, which is said to be less toxic than Metaldehyde and is even approved in organic growing systems. But, here's the thing I still don't trust it. I do use ferric phosphate at home in the cold frame, but never i the open ground. My logic is the seedlings in the cold frame are up and away from mammals, birds etc and I can just use a tiny amount. When the seedlings are big enough to plant out it's a game of numbers, plus...
Nematodes. Nematodes are brilliant and I have had very little damage from slugs and snails. They are microscopic worms that are parasitic to slugs and snails and do not harm any other insects, earthworms or mammals. They live in the soil and whilst the recommended application is every 6 weeks, I apply them once every spring and it has good results.
Th other things to do are
If you didn't do it last month it's not too late to plant potatoes. And I don't chit them! Chitting is when you leave them somewhere light, like a kitchen windowsill, and allow the potatoes to shoot before planting them. People say you get bigger harvests, but I have never been disappointed with my harvests and don't care to have my windowsills filled with potatoes for weeks on end.