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April is prime planting time

At this time of the year, there are so many varieties of vegetables to choose from to tempt your green (or not so green) fingers and your taste buds.

The secret is in the soil

It's very important to give vegetables and herbs the best possible start so they remain healthy and productive, and one of the best ways to do this is to prepare your soil before planting. The secret is in the soil.

Soil is the engine room of the garden and is a vital part of creating a flourishing garden. You can help nurture and revitalise your soil by mixing in some handfuls of Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food into the soil before you plant seedlings or sow seeds.

It's a concentrated, composted, pelletised manure blended with the added goodness of blood and bone, fishmeal and seaweed.

Used regularly, the rich organic matter will help increase the soil's water and nutrient- holding ability, improve soil structure as well as providing a source of food for earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms, which are super helpers in the garden.

Earthworms and microorganisms turn organic matter into valuable plant available nutrients and earthworms also make tunnels through the soil, making it easier for plant roots to grow.

You can plant the following from seed: spring onions, cabbage, beetroot, broccoli, leeks and baby leaf lettuces with leaves that can be picked individually.

Follow the directions on the seed packets as to how deep to sow the seeds, keep the area moist and the seedlings will emerge within around two weeks. You might need to thin out some seedlings to give every plant enough room to grow.

Slugs and snails can destroy tender young seedlings very quickly, so protect your vegetable patch with a light sprinkle of Yates Blitzem Snail Slug Pellets around the soil.

Post-tomato plan

In cool and temperate regions, tomatoes are sadly coming to the end of their growing season. Hopefully they have given you a bumper crop

Here's what to do with your tomato patch:

' Remove the remaining fruit and ripen any green tomatoes on a warm windowsill.

' Pull the plants out of the soil, roots and all if possible. This will help to reduce the level of tomato pests and diseases that could linger.

' Mix some Yates Thrive Natural Blood Bone with Seaweed. After a busy few months of growing tomatoes, the soil will have become depleted of nutrients and organic matter levels will have declined. This is a rich source of concentrated organic matter, boosted with seaweed, and will help improve soil health and structure.

' Refresh the mulch layer on the soil. Lucerne or pea straw is ideal as they help protect the soil from the elements and as they break down add valuable organic matter to the soil.

' Choose your next crop. It's important to practise crop rotation and not plant any vegetables in the same patch that are related to tomatoes, which includes plants like potatoes, capsicum, eggplant and chillies. Crop rotation helps to minimise the build-up of pests and diseases that can infest plants in the same family. Leafy greens like spinach and silverbeet or brassica crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are fantastic for growing after tomatoes.

After planting your new seedlings, water them in well with Yates Thrive Natural Seaweed Tonic. Made from 100 percent sustainably-sourced bull kelp, it helps to reduce transplant shock in new plants and is an excellent plant starter as it stimulates root growth.

Once the seedlings are established, start feeding with Yates Thrive Fish Blood & Bone plant food concentrate, a complete plant food containing organic nutrients from fish boosted with added fast-acting nutrients to promote healthy plant growth and a great harvest.

Sweet peas

Sweet peas are delightful and very popular plants that combine delicate, pretty flowers with a beautiful fragrance. St Patrick's Day (March 17th) has been the traditional day to sow sweet peas — however it's often best to wait for cooler conditions in April to sow them. In warmer areas, sow sweet peas later still in May.

There are gorgeous sweet pea varieties to suit most climates and gardens, whether you want to cover a fence, have room in a garden bed for a sweet pea tepee or fill a container or hanging basket on a sunny veranda or balcony.

Follow these easy steps to create a beautiful sweet pea display:

' Step 1: Sow seed around 25mm deep into a garden bed or pot, firm down and water in well. If your soil is acidic (has a low pH) also apply some Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime Dolomite. This will help to raise the soil pH (make it more alkaline), which sweet peas prefer.

' Step 2: Only water again sparingly until seedlings emerge in around two weeks' time. Too moist soil can lead to the seeds rotting. Protect from slugs and snails with slug and snail pellets

' Step 3: Once the seedlings are around 5cm tall, start feeding each week with Yates Thrive Roses Flowers Liquid Plant Food. This fast-acting complete fertiliser provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth, phosphorus for strong root development and potassium for lots of lovely sweet pea flowers.

' Step 4: Tall varieties will need to be grown on a frame, trellis or tepee. Young seedlings may need to be supported with small twigs or bamboo skewers until they can reach their trellis.

' Step 5: Sweet peas take around 12-14 weeks to flower. Then you can cut handfuls of deliciously-scented flowers for a vase. Dead head frequently to prolong flowering.

— Courtesy of Yates

Sweet pea flowers border isolated on white background
There are gorgeous sweet pea varieties to suit most climates and gardens,
Leafy greens like spinach and silverbeet or brassica crops like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are fantastic for growing after tomatoes.