With the risk of late frosts becoming less and less as each day passes, May is the first month that you can really get to grip with some serious seed production. By far the quickest and often the cheapest way of increasing your stocks, sowing - and watching your own plants grow - it is also one of the most satisfying.
Edible crops – particularly the salads, like radish, rocket, spring onions and mixed lettuce – should be top of your to-do list. Not only should you have already harvested and eaten your first batch of tender crisp leaves, you should also be re-sowing them on a bi-weekly basis to ensure regular cropping. The more tender seedlings, such as asparagus and artichokes, can also be brought outside, however they must be hardened off in a cold frame for 2-3 weeks before they are ready to be planted out in the big outdoors. Anything frost tender should still be kept under protection unless you are feeling confident with the weather, but to be on the safe side, make sure you keep an eye on you local BBC weather forecasts – click HERE to find out more.
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Slugs and Snails
These common garden pests can have a devastating effect on many of the new plants that are planted out at this time of year, temperatures are on the increase which will improve their activity while seasonal showers will provide the dampness they need to give them easy access around the garden – even up and around vertical brick walls! Don’t fall into the trap of using convenient blue slug pellets as these can do far more harm than good by killing native ‘slug eating’ wildlife through second hand poisoning. Consider using alternative organic methods of control or, better still, encourage native slug eating predators back into the garden. Click below for relevant articles.
Many of the spring flowering bulbs would have finished flowering by now, and their leaves will soon be dying back naturally in order to ‘feed’ and swell the underground bulbs in readiness for next year’s display. Give them a helping hand by top-dressing them with a well rotted farm-manure so that they can make use of the extra nutrients. The same can be done for fruiting trees and bushes. Producing their hoards of succulent fruit or berries will require a lot of energy from the plant and so a good helping of nutritious top-dressing will help to keep both the plant and its crop in good condition. Even though the weather is still relatively mild it's important that you don’t forget to water your fruiting plants especially during this critical stage of their fruit development.
Along with the warmer weather will come the onset of weeds or ’vigorous native plant species’ as perhaps we ought to call them. While they are still small they can be controlled very easy l by using either a dutch or a draw hoe, but you must be careful when hoeing for weeds in between young delicate seedlings as they can be easily damaged or worse – mistakenly removed. If you are ever unsure as to whether you should be using a hoe or not – it is probably better to use your hands.
Don’t be tempted to leave your hoeing for another day just because the weed seedlings look to small to bother with because you can quickly end up with a large and troublesome job on your hands. As with many jobs in the garden the ‘little but often’ approach is always best.
Peas and Beans, and Sweet corn
To get the earliest crop of these tender annual crops you will need to start sowing all of these New World plants now, but make sure that it done under warm protection. When the time comes, thin them out properly to ensure that the strongest seedlings get the best advantage. Also, try to grow them to the largest size possible before planting out at the beginning of June. Remember to make sure that these plants have whatever plant support they need already in place before planting. If you try and put it supporting canes after the plants are in the ground you may end up damaging the roots and reducing their vigour, or at worst - losing some of your seedlings.
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