May in the Garden

With David Williams

May in the garden

Summer is just around the corner.

Temperatures are beginning to rise, but just as the days get warmer, the nights can get just as cold, especially early in the month.

We can still expect a frost well into May so we really do need to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

My advice would be not to plant out tender perennials too early and risk them getting frosted. It is always better to wait a week than get caught out!

If you have been busy growing lots of plants in the greenhouse, make sure you harden them off well before planting out. Wind burn can be just as damaging to a plant as a frost can be, so this way you can be sure that they don’t suffer an interruption in growth.

Before planting out any of your flowers, always make sure you give them a good watering a few hours beforehand, this will help your plants with the transition.

No matter what you are planting out it is important to prepare the soil. You can do this by adding lots of garden compost or well-rotted manure. Rake in some organic fertiliser at the recommended rate to help your plants get off to a good start.

If you have not grown any of your own plants it is fun at this time of the year to visit a local garden centre or specialist plant nursery. Not only can you get lots of great new plants but the visit can also offer lots of inspiration and ideas for your garden.

Lots of the larger centres have some great display gardens for you to wander around.

There are many that open gardens in the National garden scheme (many are mentioned in our NGS feature this month).

Throughout the year you will also get to see what plants grow well in your local area as well as getting to meet other local gardeners to swap hints and tips.

In the vegetable garden there is plenty to be getting on with!

Your potatoes will need earthing up. This is the process of raking the surrounding soil over the growing shoots of the potato. This works on two levels; firstly it protects the tender shoots of the potatoes from frost and secondly it encourages more potatoes to form on the buried stems.

Getting a bigger and better crop is hard work but you will reap the rewards of your hard work when you harvest them.

May is the best time to sow your runner and French beans. I always sow two seeds in a small 9cm (3”) pot in good compost in the greenhouse. By the middle of May it is safe to sow directly outside where you want them to grow. Keep up with your regular sowing of salad crops so you will get a constant supply. I find that sowing every two weeks gives an unbroken supply up to the first frosts.

Grass cutting will now have to be regular depending on the weather. It is important not to forget the edges whilst cutting. It is good to give the edges of the lawn a clip with some shears once a week – this will really smarten up your lawn. Remember to pick up the clippings that fall onto the border as they will soon rot and go slimy if left. These will work well in your compost heap.