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Gardener's Diary: May

Posted by Verity Mihai on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 Under: Gardening
This time of the gardening year has a rhythm all of its own.  

Tasks need doing in a set order to ensure everything is ready to be planted out or sown at the right time.  

Then of course the weather intervenes and puts plans awry.  

The warm early spring caused many of the spring crops to run to seed, then the very cold weather has brought an abrupt halt to any ideas of planting out all but the hardiest plants.  

I will be starting to harden off tomatoes, peppers, corn, beans and aubergines and flowers ready for my plot and next week’s market and aim to have them planted out in open ground by the middle of May. 

Super tender pumpkins, squash , cucumber and courgettes have only just been started  inside as it was too cold for them to germinate and will be put out at the end of May, when it will hopefully be warm enough for them to flourish.

If you only have a small veg patch, want to grow in pots, or mix your veg in with flowers you could try out one of the following ideas – 3 or 5 tall bamboos pushed well into the ground or a pot in a circle and tied at the top will provide support for a good crop of French or runner beans.  If you want something colourful and edible climbing up your fence try Borlotti beans. The colours of the pods are spectacular.


One courgette plant in a large pot or in the ground will provide a useful harvest, and a couple of peppers or chillies in with the flowers will add visual interest or form attractive focal points in a pot on the patio or balcony.  

Herbs can be grown this time of year in the garden or even on the kitchen windowsill.

Hanging baskets can be used for strawberries, herbs or tumbling tomatoes. If you are more adventurous, mange tout peas also do well in baskets; just make sure you sow a dwarf variety. The only trouble with this crop is that it rarely gets as far as the kitchen as it is just too delicious to resist eating the pods straight off the vine.

Lollo Rosso or Salad Bowl lettuce can be planted at the front of a border and picked a few leaves at a time over a long period. Rocket is also pretty, easy to grow and has the bonus of edible flowers.

Whatever you are planting preparation is important. Make sure your ground is free of weeds, and prepare by digging in any well rotted compost or raking in fertilizer if needed. It is worth doing this a couple of weeks before sowing if you can , then hoe off any weed seedlings without disturbing the surface. This saves a lot of weeding later on.   If you are sowing seeds, water the drill really well before sowing, rather than watering afterwards.  This encourages roots to go downwards and seek out damp. 

Likewise when planting, dig the hole and fill with water. Allow to drain and then plant firmly. Apart from plants of the cucumber family plant deeply so that new roots will develop on the part of the stem now buried and give the plant better support and more roots to obtain nourishment and moisture.
Whatever you are growing take time on a sunny evening to stop tending your plants and sit and enjoy them preferably with a glass of whatever you fancy in hand!

In : Gardening