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Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for May! 05 May 2023

Usually the month of May brings us warmer weather and with a little luck the end of too many night frosts. The Longer evenings will help us keep on top of those little gardening jobs. But please remember to have some fleece ready just in case we get a cold night to protect any of those tender plants.

  1. As  May has arrived, I like to make my first sowing of Runner Beans and Dwarf French Beans. I sow the seeds into 9cm (3 1/2 in) pots of seed sowing compost and place on the bench in a heated glasshouse or on a warm windowsill. This early sowing can then be moved into a cold frame once germinated, so the plants acclimatise gradually, before being planted outside towards the end of this month once the risk of frost has passed. I try to make a sowing at beginning of may and another about mid-May to give continuity of fresh beans to harvest over a longer period.
  2. Further sowings of late Peas, Radish, Carrot, Lettuce and Beetroot can be made into drills outside. This will ensure you get a continuous supply to harvest throughout the year.
  3. If you didn’t find the time to sow some Half Hardy annual summer bedding earlier in the year, but you would still like a quick colourful display? The answer is sowing some Hardy Annuals. These seeds can be sown direct into the garden soil where they are to flower. These seeds can be sown anytime this month up to the beginning of June and will reward you with a colourful summer display. Try sowing some Nasturtiums, Nigella, Sunflowers, Cornflowers, Godetia or Calendulas you won’t be disappointed. Plus you will surprised how big an error you can sow for very little cost.
  4. Potatoes should be showing plenty of growth this month, and will require earthing up so the developing tubers are covered below grown and this earthing up will hep protect any emerging foliage from any night frosts. Before the foliage meets between the rows sprinkle some potato fertiliser in between the rows before you earth up for the final time.
  5. I love adding herbs to various dishes and salads. This month is the ideal time to sow some of the quick growing Herbs like Dill, Coriander, Rocket, and Parsley. At this time of year the soil is warmer, so you can sow these seeds direct into the herb or vegetable garden outside in shallow drills, or into containers on the patio ready for harvesting later in the year.
  6. If you are growing Strawberry plants in containers or in the ground, this month they will start to produce a lot of flower. To encourage a good fruit harvest, I suggest you feed your plants with high Potash granular feed. Carefully work the feed into the soil in-between the plants, or the tops of the containers. Plants in the ground can then have some straw mulch placed around the plants to protect the developing fruit as it grows and add some bird net protection so you can enjoy the fruits later before the birds get a feed.
  7. If you are growing Lilies in borders or containers, make sure you are vigilant this month as the dreaded Lily Beetles will be active munching on the foliage of Lilies. Adult Lily beetles are easily recognisable as they are an attractive bright red colour. The best method of control I have found is to keep a close watch over your plants and pick the lily beetles off with finger and thumb as soon as they are seen. Alternatively, you can spray them with a suitable insecticide like Grazers G4 Formula available in our mail order catalogue and on the website.
  8. Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines and Cucumbers can be planted out this month into a cold Greenhouse or polytunnel. If we were to get some cold night protect plants (especially the cucumbers) with some fleece.
  9. Around the middle of this month I will be planting up my containers and baskets with bedding plants. This will make space in the greenhouse and save a job later. I will then stand these pots and baskets outside on nice days and during mild evenings. If the weather turns bad they are put back in the greenhouse, shed or garage over night. When planting containers make sure you use a good quality potting compost and add some slow release Miracle Grow All Purpose fertiliser (Available on our website), as these plants will be in this same container for several months. The slow release fertiliser will feed your containers and baskets for 6 months; so reducing the amount of liquid feeding you will need to do.
  10. Towards the end of the month I will start to plant out some of my summer bedding plants into their final positions. This is only done once the plants have been hardened off properly for a few weeks in a cold frame so they are acclimatised to outdoor conditions and once the risk of late frost has passed.

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