The May Garden

We are continuing a theme! Picking up where April finished. Spring began on the 15th of April leaving our gardens and countryside quite bare of foliage on deciduous shrubs and trees. Water tables are still high and the ground is cold as we begin to go into May. It is wise to watch out for frost. As a consequence the wild life around Bishopston is slow to react to a reluctant spring. Cock blackbirds usually stake their claim around now and the first swifts start to chase the skies for insects. The problem being it is too cold for bugs so no doubt the swifts and swallows will be late.

Lawns – You should be mowing at least once a week. Now is the time to apply lawn feed and weed killer in a combined granulated form and reduce the height of the cut from two and a half inches to two inches by the end of May. Saying that, if we have a scorcher, leave it on a high cut.

Roses – Mulch with last years compost and spray against pests such as black spot and mildew.

Shrubs – cut back Forsythia for denser flowering next year, also cut back Japonica Chaenomeles (quince) This is the time to cut evergreen hedges and shrubs such as box,  Euonymus  Aucuba, Laurels, Yew and Viburnum Tinus.

Mixed border and perennial areas – Chrysanthemums plant outdoor flowering plants at the beginning of the month. Try planting out young Dahlias as soon as the frost has gone. Keep hoeing lightly so young weeds don’t get a hold. Support tall perennials, pinch out the growing tips of Golden Rod, Heleniums and Michaelmas Daisies. This will enable a bushy strong self- supporting plant.

Bulbs – Don’t be tempted to cut back foliage of bulbs until one month after flowering as this will impoverish the bulb for next year.

Vege plots – earth up potatoes, plant out runner beans into well fertilised holes. Try Blue Lake climbing beans as they are very tasty. Put in staggered drills of perpetual salads, rocket and perpetual spinach as they are versatile and easy to grow, and courgettes but make sure that slugs and snails are kept off. Net brassicas against cabbage white butterflies that will appear later in the month.

Don’t forget to continuously sow short drills of carrots in sharp sand (Holm sand) mixed with top soil and regularly thin. Tomatoes will need regular watering and feeding and reduce trusses to four if grown as a cordon, pinch out the top growing shoots and check supports.

Fruit – feed figs with liquid manure and put straw around strawberry plants. Use a how rather than a fork and keep on top of the weeds and slugs. Our summer could come this month…..!! PLEASE

Good Gardening! Pete at All Gardens

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