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Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for May 01 May 2024

Finally it looks like the sun has arrived after a very wet spring. Hopefully May will continue to warm up as the month progresses, 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, Climbing and Dwarf French Beans. I sow the seeds into 9cm (3 1/2 in) pots or large module trays of seed sowing compost and place them 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 the 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, Spring onion, Beetroot, Spinach 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 flowers 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 area 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 ground. Earthing up will help 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.            Cucumbers, Courgettes, Pumpkins and squash can all be sown under glass this month. I like to sow the seeds into pots half filled with seed sowing compost. The seeds should be sown on their edge and not flat, this is to avoid the seeds sitting too wet. The reason I sow in half filled pots is so when the seedlings emerge and the seed leaves reach the top of the pot, I can then carefully backfill around the seedling with more compost. This will encourage more roots to develop from the stem and create a study plant, ready for planting out towards the end of the month once the risk of frost has passed. 
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.            Sweet Corn can be sown this month under glass so they ready for planting out in June once the risk of frost has passed. When sowing sweetcorn, sow seeds into individual pots or cells filled with a seed sowing compost. The compost should be moist but not too wet, as these seeds will soak up moisture like a sponge and easily rot if too wet.
8.            Tomatoes, Peppers and Aubergines can be planted out this month into a cold Greenhouse or polytunnel. If we were to get some very cold nights, protect plants 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 to be put back in the greenhouse, shed or garage overnight. 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 prepare my borders and make a start planting 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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