May is such a lovely month in the garden.
Vibrant, fresh growth, the promise of things to come, & all with a backdrop of the sweetest birdsong.
But time is flying by, so here’s a reminder of just a few of the things that can be done, during the remainder of the month.
My dahlias are potted up in the greenhouse & very slowly new leaves are emerging. I think they’ll be flowering later than usual after our cold Spring. I’m waiting for them to be bigger & stronger, with tougher leaves that hopefully won’t temp slugs & snails.
Have you got any dahlias growing this year, how are they doing?
I noticed on Instagram that one of the gardeners at a famous garden (I can’t remember which one) was sowing Cosmos seeds this week, it’s not too late, if like me you haven’t sown any yet. They’ll be useful to fill gaps in the border later in the summer.
It’s also the perfect month to plant Zinnia seeds, simply sow the seeds where you want them to grow.
Daffodils & most spring flowering bulbs have finished flowering by now. I’ve been snipping off spent flower stalks, leaving the foliage for another 5- 6 weeks. The plant uses the leaves to make energy, thats stored in the bulb for next year, so this stage is important. The leaves wither & come away easily from the plant when they’ve done their thing.
A dose of organic fertiliser & watering to keep the soil moist, gives bulbs the best chance to grow big & fat to produce good flowers.
Vegetables & Fruit:
This year a neighbourhood cat has been visiting our garden for a dig-around, little damage has been done, just a couple of garlic plants dug-up. I’ve covered my seedlings with black netting, invisible from a distance, over metal hoops, it’s working well & provided a little shelter when the nights were cold.
I’m sowing a few seeds of our favourite vegetables, salad leaves, carrots, beetroot every couple of weeks to ensure a good supply through the summer.
Courgettes, French beans, runner beans & sweet-corn can be sown now, outside where they are to grow. Though planting the first three under glass or inside gets them off to a quicker start.
I’ve just planted bought runner beans, but left space on the run of bean-poles to plant seeds, as a back-up & for a later crop. I’ve also planted a bought courgette plant, just one, I’m tempted to plant another one but mindful of how big they get & space in the six raised beds is very precious. There are just the 2 of us, I hope the single plant will repay me with an adequate supply, if I look after it well.
It’s a good idea to water fruit bushes when the weather is dry to encourage flowering. I have yet to cover my gooseberries & jostaberry with netting. One year the un-netted gooseberries disappeared over night, which was maddening, but birds are always on the look-out for a feast, & who can blame them. Time has obviously dulled the pain I felt at the time, when I wasn’t quite as philosophical.
The weather forcast for this part of England predicts warm weather & sunshine, but no rain, for the rest of the month. So watering will be necessary for newly planted plants & seedlings. I try & do it late in the afternoon, a good time for plants, less water evaporates in the heat & dampness doesn’t linger overnight, & it’s a nice winding-up time towards the end of the day for me.
I’ve got several big pots of different mints & have been busy tipping them out of their pots (it helps to water thoroughy in advance) chopping them up & re-potting them. I’ve got a few pots to give away, which is always a nice thing to do.
Finally, make sure you have time to sit in your garden & enjoy it.
There’s a previous post here about growing your own herbs.
I’ll be at The Chelsea Flower Show on Press Day, Monday 21st May, there’ll be a post about it next for you.
All photos: Jill Anderson