April 26 – May 30, 2024


Gardening in May

Brussel sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. Practise good rotation especially with members of the cabbage family to reduce pest and disease problems. Use cab- bage collars immediately after planting to create an essential barrier against cabbage rootfly depositing their eggs at the base of your cabbage and family plants. Sow at regular intervals – beetroot, cabbage, carrots, salad onions, salad leaves, swedes, turnips, broad beans, radish- es, peas, broccoli, summer/ autumn cabbage, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes can all be grown in grow bags or containers. Why not try some of the multicoloured or purple carrot varieties – they are de- licious! You can sow Runner and French beans outside as well as sweet corn, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes. Use a fleece or cloche to speed their germination. Sweet corn need to be sown in blocks or squares to assist and enhance pollination. Plant tomatoes in the green- house or in a sunny, sheltered position outdoors. Take precau- tions against slugs on all newly emerging seedlings or recently planted plants. Hoe frequently early in the day to eliminate weeds –keep onto regularly as growth is rapid at this time of the year. Finish planting of seed potatoes early in the month. Feed all tomatoes, auber- gines, peppers and cucumbers under cover. A seaweed-based liquid feed is recommended. Be vigilant with watering and ventilation in the greenhouse. Do consider an automatic venti- lator especially if you are out at work or away on holiday or on business. Lawns Finish sowing of new lawns early this month. Roll newly sown new lawns. Newly sown lawns can have their first cutting at the highest setting. Mow established lawns at weekly intervals, presuming normal weather and soil conditions prevail! Fruit Prune plums and cherries – pinch out the growing tip at six sets of leaves. By pruning at this time, wounds heal more quickly and the period of heaviest spore production is avoided. Mulch gooseberries, currants, rasp- berries and blackberries. Tuck clean straw under strawberries to keep the fruit clean and avoid rot, slug and snail damage. Netting or fleece will protect against bird damage.

Keep an eye on recently planted trees, shrubs and hedging for water. Water thoroughly twice a week during dry spells. Mulch- es will be beneficial with these too to conserve moisture. Trees and shrubs for May pruning Prune evergreens that have frost or wind damage and tidy up untidy shoots. Pyracanthas trained against a wall or fence should have shoots growing directly into the wall with any growing shoot away from it should be pruned out. Shorten the shoots to about 8cm, which will encourage the formation of short spurs bearing the flower buds and then the beautiful berries in autumn. Kerria japonica and Spiraea ‘Arguta’: Kerria should have all the shoots that have produced flowers cut back to young sideshoots lower down. Remove underground suckers to prevent them encroaching onto other plants. Spiraea Arguta should have its flowered wood pruned back to buds or shoots. In addition cut out about one in three of the older stems com- pletely to the ground. This will encourage new growth from the base of the plant keeping it vigorous and healthy. Buxus sempervirens: Lightly trim with a hand shears and disinfect frequently to avoid the spread of box blight and rust. Spring-flowering bulbs Don’t be tempted to cut down spring bulbs until at least six weeks have elapsed after flowering. If you are too hasty with cutting back, it will stunt the growing and will drastically reduce the amount of flowers next year. Feed all spring flow - ering bulbs with a good general organic fertiliser and water in if the weather is dry. Spring bedding As spring flowering bedding plants such as Pansies, Forget- me-nots and Wallflowers finish their flowering time, they need to be discarded to make way for the summer bedding displays. The discarded bedding plants can be put on the compost heap. Apply a little organic fertiliser prior to planting the summer bedding displays. Heel in spring bulbs to die down naturally. Deadhead all faded blooms. Summer Displays Plant up hanging baskets, window boxes, oak barrels and patio containers. Use a fresh compost with a slow release fertiliser thoroughly mixed through the compost. Freshly planted containers should be kept in a sheltered, protected

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place until established. Check chains of hanging baskets and replace if they are no longer in good condition. Discard old compost from last season. Ensure all containers have adequate drainage outlets and secure containers safely in areas with public access. Make excit- ing displays in large containers or bed or border centrepieces by making wigwams of 2-3m in height from sturdy hazel sticks, bamboos or obelisks. These are ideal for supporting and displaying Sweet Pea, Thunber- gias (black eyed Susan), Cobaea scandens, trailing Nasturtiums and Climbing Fuchsias such as Sow hardy annuals directly into the soil now in informal groups. Choose from a selection of excellent annuals including – Calendulas, Nigella (love in a mist), Californian Poppies, Linum, Godetias, Virginian Stock, Night scented stock. Sunflower-dwarf varieties – look out for new colours, Echium Blue Bedder-Poppy ‘Ladybird’. Ammi majus has feathery foliage with delightful sprays of white flowers. Sow the taller varieties at the back of one sided borders graduating to the lower varieties at the front. Lady Boothby. Sow outdoors Position taller varieties at the centre of island beds graduating down to lower varieties at the edges. These delightful colour- ful annuals will provide a great attraction to bees, butterflies and insects and your garden will be a buzz of insect activity and cheerful summer colour. Vegetables Plant out tender vegetables such as pumpkins, marrows, cour- gettes, melons, squashes, out- door cucumbers, runner beans, French beans, sweet corn. Protect with fleece, a cloche or cold frame if cold winds or late frosts linger. Start to plant out winter maturing vegeta- bles such as Savoy cabbage, GARDENING John Hosford The Weekend Garden Centre

M ay is a busy month for gardeners with rapid growth and an equally rapid amount of jobs in the garden that require attention. Let’s hope we get some nice sunny weather suitable for gardening. The Chelsea Flower Show is being held from May 21-25 this year. If you don’t make it to the show, follow the extensive cov- erage on BBC and get inspired Now is the time to harden-off Dahlias, Begonias, Cannas, half-hardy bedding plants, vege- table plants started off under protection. Hardening-off is the gradual acclimatisation of plants to the vagaries and rough-and- tumble of the outdoor environ- ment. Hardening-off should commence two to three weeks prior to planting out, which is usually after May 19 when all risk of frost has passed. Commence hardening-off in a sheltered part of the garden, for a hour or two initially, build- ing up gradually to all day and then day and night. Watering for the season ahead. Harden-off plants plants will be growing rapidly now and with longer days will require more watering. Take every opportunity to store rain water, looking into water butts and other methods of rain water harvesting. Conserve moisture loss with a heavy mulching of bark mulch, well-composted garden waste (that hasn’t been contaminated with troublesome perennial weeds or lawn mow- ings that have had chemical treatment). Bark mulch can be purchased at good garden cen- tres or in bulk loads delivered to your home. Get the area well clear of weeds before spreading the bark mulch, compost or Gee-up. Mulching will conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

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