May is one of the most changeable months of the year. It can be warm and sunny one minute; cold, rainy and even freezing the next. For a gardener this can be a nightmare.
With young seedlings growing fast and being hardened off prior to planting outside, keeping watch on the temperature is absolutely essential. A sudden cold snap can set seedlings back or even kill them. Make sure cold frames, cloches and greenhouses are closed at night whenever air frosts are predicted.
Fleeces can be used to provide an emergency overnight cover for large plantings in the garden or for groups of tender container plants that are hardening off on patios. Remember to anchor any fleece down firmly so that there is no chance of it being blown away.
During the daytime, it is equally important to make sure that there is plenty of ventilation so as to make sure that plants do not overheat.
Runner beans and sweetcorn should be planted in modules no later than early May. Seeds can be planted outside at the end of the month after all risk of frost has passed. Leafy salad vegetables grown under cloches and in greenhouses will be growing fast and should be harvested regularly. Perennial leaves such as sorrel and lovage are also ready for picking and make wonderful extras to salads and sandwiches.
Leave daffodils die back naturally because the bulbs need all the energy for next year’s growth. Lawns should be cut regularly as grass will be growing fast. Take care to cut the grass close to borders otherwise it will grow over and begin to swamp the flowers. Weeding should also be continued as the lengthening days and slowly rising temperatures mean that weeds grow just as fast as flowers and vegetables!
There is a lot to do in the garden, but don’t forget to take some time to sit back and enjoy the perfumes and colour of the flowers.
With lush green growth evident everywhere in the garden, this is probably one of the busiest times for any gardener. Weeds are growing just as fast as flowers and vegetables, while garden centres are full of luscious plants just asking to be added to your garden!
This is the perfect time for planting out new shrubs, hardy annuals and vegetables such as peas, broad beans, rhubarb and carrots. Definitely worth considering too are perennial edible leaves such as Sorrel which has a lovely lemony taste, chicory, lovage and wild rocket both of which have a more peppery taste. Plant now and within a few weeks you will be able to start gently cropping the leaves to add to salads. Once planted, they should keep growing year after year, providing a lovely long harvesting period.
Potatoes should be earthed up as soon as the stalks are about nine inches high. This involves pulling up the earth around the stems to create a mound. This will protect the tubers as they grow, and encourage more to develop.
Weed regularly throughout the garden, as this will minimize the problem over the summer period. Weeds compete for the valuable water and nutrients that your flowers, shrubs and vegetables need. Getting rid of the weeds will help your plants during the months ahead. Hoeing is the quickest way of removing young weeds before they start to establish. Deeper rooted weeds such as dandelions and thistles need to be dug out as they will regrow from the roots.
Lawns will need to be mowed regularly from now on. The grass is growing quickly and can easily become unsightly if left too long. Add fertilizer and weed killers as necessary to promote strong, healthy growth. If you have gaps appearing in the lawn, gently rake over the surface and add some more lawn seed. Water in thoroughly and protect the surface with netting until new growth appears.
If there has been no rain, always check new plantings at regular intervals during the week to make sure they are not drying out. Give them extra water until they are fully established. Hand watering is best as this reduces the amount of water you will need and ensures you can direct the water to those plants that really need it.