It’s spring! The sun is out and the April showers have given your garden the boost it needs to get growing, so now is the time to do a bit of prep work to reap the benefits all summer. But with so much to do in the garden in May, what is top of the priority list?
Seeds should be sown, vegetables and flowers should be planted, and lawns should be given some tender loving care to ensure they are looking luscious and well-nourished for sunny days spent outdoors.
Patrick Wall, buyer of box bedding, hanging baskets and planted containers at Wyevale Garden Centres, shares his gardening jobs of the month, helping you to get one step closer to your dream garden.
Time to get your hands dirty with sowing, planting and potting but there are a few early morsels to be picked and eaten too. Here’s your May garden to-do list…
1. Prep your pots
Plant up your outdoor pots and summer hanging baskets, but keep them in a greenhouse or porch for a few weeks to establish, before putting them outside. Establishing the plants encourages roots to grow out and increase their drought tolerance which means they will be able to withstand the drier months ahead.
2. Sow beans
Start sowing runner, dwarf and climbing French beans. All beans appreciate a rich, deep, well-drained soil in a sunny position, so before sowing make sure you dig over your plot to clear any rocks and large stones, and dig in a good amount of compost or well-rotted farmyard manure to encourage the beans to grow.
3. Quench crops’ thirst
Now that the weather is warming up it’s important to water thirsty crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and courgettes regularly. Make sure that the soil or compost stays moist but is not waterlogged and take care to water the ground around the plant and not the leaves.
4. Mulch beds and borders
Not only does mulching lock in the soil’s moisture and improve its texture, it also works to supress weeds. By covering the soil with mulch, weed seeds struggle to come into contact with the soil when they land; this, combined with their deprivation of light means they cannot germinate and are prevented from growing. Make sure you apply enough mulch (around 2-3 inches) and ensure that the mulch is not pushed too closely up against your plants.
5. Watch out for pests!
It’s important to check plants regularly for pests. Pay close attention to shoot tips to check for pests, such as capsid bugs, as well as the underside of leaves which can attract aphids, mealy bugs, red spider mites and thrips. There are plenty of ways to ward off those unwanted pests in an eco and wildlife friendly way without causing damage to your plants.
6. Love your lawn
Apply nitrogen-rich summer feed to your lawn to encourage leafy growth. May is the best time of year to do this as the longer daylight hours and warmer soil create the perfect conditions for the grass to grow. Always fertilise your lawn after mowing to avoid disturbing the fertiliser on the surface.
7. Grow beautiful Foxgloves
Tall, striking and graceful, foxgloves are the perfect plant for the back of a border in dappled shade. While they prefer moist soil, they will tolerate a dry spot, especially if you give them a generous mulch of dried bark in spring. Growing up to 2m, they look stunning grown alongside a hedge or in a circle around a specimen tree.
These plants are generally biennial, which means they grow their leaves in the first year then flower in the following year. However, they set seed very freely, so new plants are likely to keep popping up in the same position. If seedlings appear where they’re not wanted, wait until they are around 10cm tall before you transplant them to a more suitable spot. The new plants may be different colours to the parents which can lead to some exciting discoveries!
Will you be tackling any of these May gardening jobs?