May in the Garden
May in the Garden
May is upon us and seems to have arrived like a lightning bolt out of the blue. But I am more than happy to embrace the warmer and longer days that give me more time in the garden to potter and do all the little jobs that need my attention.
But, with the warmer temperatures come certain garden pests that seemingly appear from nowhere and I am talking here about lily beetles, vine weevils (and their larvae) and the ever present greenfly sent to torment and tease us and our roses. I will give you tips to help alleviate these ‘problem pests’ in the listing below. So here are a few tasks to keep you occupied this month in the greenhouse, the garden and the veg patch.
Check out our Brookside Nursery Timely Tips for May –
Time to Hoe – You may have noticed that your veg patch or garden borders have suddenly sprouted a myriad of small weeds so if you haven’t got a garden hoe, now is the time to make a purchase. It may sound like an old fashioned tool (and it is) but it is one that has stood the test of time. Once you have one you will wonder how you managed without it. Hoeing is brilliant for removing those small weeds that appear overnight. You don’t dig; just skim the top layer of soil which removes the weeds at their roots. It is an easy and very satisfying task and is best done when the warm sun can then get to those weeds on the surface and kill them off before they have the chance to grow and set seed.
Time to Water New Plants – Newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials will benefit from a weekly soak as drying wind, along with warming temperatures can be damaging to young plants. Water soil around plants and then mulch the area either with well-rotted manure or compost, even bark chippings. Then water in again. This helps to keep the moisture in and keeps weeds at bay. Shrubs and trees that are established can find their own water as they send down roots to source moisture but remember anything planted recently can soon dry out.
Time to feed plants - Feeding specific plants around the garden, with feed designed for them, is best done from now and throughout the summer growing months. Choose the right feed for the right plant. Ericaceous feed for Azaleas, Pieris, Rhododendrons and Camellias. Use a general multi-purpose feed for most other plants around the garden borders and for summer bedding use a liquid/granule feed that will help feed the roots and keep producing flowers throughout their season. There are many available and I use the organic feeds from Neudorff that are available on our website. Vegetables will benefit from high nitrogen feed (for leafy growth) and later in the season a feed that is high in potash/potassium to help with the production of flowers and fruit.
Don’t forget your houseplants! They are mostly leafy types so choose the appropriate houseplant feed for them. Cactus and succulent feed is also a specialised affair so choose a liquid feed that will benefit their slow growth. Follow instructions on how much to use with each feed and always err on the mean side rather than giving too much.
Time to tie in climbers like roses, clematis and vines - It is not fun trying to untangle an unwieldy mass of clematis stems and tendrils, mostly because there just isn’t enough time to do it slowly and because they snap so easily. Even in a week clematis and honeysuckle can grow in leaps and bounds so it pays to walk around the garden with a ball of string and scissors to hand and tie in lengths loosely as they progress.
Time to harden off tender plants - Bedding and hanging basket plants will be starting to put on a massive growth spurt this month and once they begin to flower it is so tempting to put them outside, especially if you have your baskets already made up. But watch out for weather warnings of frosty or extra chilly nights. It only takes one cold night to see off many tender annuals. ‘Hardening off’ is the term used to get plants ready for life outside, so transferring them from the greenhouse to a cold frame rather than straight out into the garden is a good halfway house. Alternatively, bring plants out of the greenhouse during the day placing them in a sheltered, dappled shady area and return them to the greenhouse overnight. Do this for a week or so and then by mid/end of May they will be ready for anything the weather can throw at them.
Have fun and enjoy your garden!