May 6, 2019

What to do in your garden in May

In May the days are longer and warmer, hopefully the risk of frost will have passed by the end of the month, and there is plenty to do in the garden, greenhouse and vegetable plot.

Veg;

  • Plant out half-hardy annuals, or direct sow eg. French beans, carrots, sweetcorn, squash and pumpkins.
  • Continue successional sowing of salads, radishes, beetroots, carrots and peas, to ensure a continuous harvest throughout the summer rather than a glut of everything all at once.
  • In this dry weather it’s best to water the drills before sowing seeds, then cover with dry soil. Also water daily to prevent the compost drying out.
  • Keep banking up soil over emerging potato shoots, protecting from late frosts but also encouraging a larger yield.
  • In most areas of the country courgettes can be planted out now. Their large leaves make them vulnerable, so they need full sun and shelter. Soak the pots in water so they go into the ground moist.
  • Protect crops from carrot fly by covering with horticultural fleece or enviromesh.
  • Salad and herbs

  • Continue successional sowing of salad
  • Direct sow basil, particularly alongside tomato seedlings to help draw white fly away from the fruit.
  • Keep mint roots under control by lifting and dividing, or alternatively grow in pots. Once within a pot they can be buried within a bed with other herbs if preferred.
  • Perennials such as chives, lovage, fennel and marjoram benefit from a haircut now. Cut them right to the ground, and they’ll be up again in a couple of weeks.
  • Fruit

  • Strawberries are insect-pollinated so make sure pollinators have access to your plants, whether in the greenhouse or outside under cover.
  • Cover soft fruit plants with netting to protect from birds.
  • Watch out for signs of powdery mildew or disease on fruit trees and bushes, and treat with a fungicide.
  • Keep an eye out for less desirable insects and creatures such as vine weevil, slugs, sawfly larvae and fruitworms, particularly on gooseberry and currant bushes, and protect young fruit from birds by covering with netting or horticultural fleece
  • Harvesting

  • Brassicas: kale, cauliflower, late purple sprouting broccoli, spring cabbage
  • Roots: radishes, first carrots, 1st potatoes (raised inside)
  • Salad crops: salad leaves, pea tips and the 1st Cos lettuce
  • Edible Flowers: borage and marigolds
  • Leafy greens: chard and spinach
  • Legumes: 1st broad beans (end of the month)
  • Squash: 1st indoor courgettes
  • Other veg: baby globe artichokes
  • Herbs: soft herbs - parsley, chervil, coriander, par-cel, 1st sorrel, evergreens: rosemary, sage, bay and winter savory, mint, tarragon, 1st dill, oregano and basil (inside)
  • Fruit: cloched strawberries and rhubarb and gooseberries need to be thinned on the branch
  • In the greenhouse

  • Start to closely inspect your plants for pests and diseases - early prevention is easier than curing an infestation.
  • Start greenhouse watering - if we have some decently hot days seed tray compost dries out in a few hours, so it may be time to start almost daily watering. Place all pots on top of water-retaining capillary matting to cut watering time by half. (This also applies to cold-frames and polytunnels).
  • Ventilate green house on warm days ( but close at night) & use blinds or apply shade paint to avoid large fluctuations of temperature.
  • Plant tagetes with your tomatoes, to act as companion flowers which deter pests. Harden off half-hardy bedding plants to acclimatise them to outdoor conditions.
  • With night temperatures no longer so low, tomato seedlings can be planted, but not yet outside. Use ring culture pots to maximise plant production and flavour.
  • Wildlife and pests

  • Start slug prevention - From trials at Perch Hill, we’ve found the biological Nemaslug and organic wool pellets are more effective than slug pellets. The key is to concentrate whatever treatment you’re using around the base of hedges and evergreen shrubs. It’s in the dense cover of larger plants that slugs and snails often live. If you put a good circle of deterrent around these, you’ll have the best effect.
  • Keep an eye out for less desirable insects and creatures such as vine weevil, slugs, sawfly larvae and fruitworms, particularly on gooseberry and currant bushes, and protect young fruit from birds by covering with netting or horticultural fleece.
  • Ref. https://www.sarahraven.com/articles/april_in_the_garden.htm