Summer is coming and you can smell the wild garlic in the woods and watch the bluebells nod in the breeze. The promise of things to come.........
We love May. It feels more and more as though summer is just around the corner. Ok we might still get some cooler nights but we’re getting longer and warmer days, As our bulbs fade and the herbaceous borders leap into life it is now clear that summer is almost here. We’re busy sowing seeds and planting out more and more plants, and we’re even taking softwood cuttings.
And yes now is the time to get your mowers and strimmers out and give your lawns some regular attention.
1. Watch out for late frosts. So the days are getting longer and the temperatures are starting to warm up but keep an eye on what Carol Kirkwood has to say as despite all those tempting offers on summer bedding plants at the garden centre, DIY stores and supermarkets we might still get the occasional frost. If one is forecast make sure you protect your tender plants.
2. Check your potatoes. If you got yours in over Easter then the chances are that they might now need earthing up. As the leaves break through the surface then you need to lightly draw up soil from either side of the row such that the new leaves are covered – and then continue to do this as new leaves appear. That encourages the tubers to develop under the soil and that should mean an even greater crop at harvest!
3. Water your plants as and when they need it. We’ve not had much rain now for several weeks and as the garden and veg patch starts to bloom into life then the chances are we’ll need to start watering. Getting the watering can out early in the morning and later in the evening – when temperatures are lower means that less water evaporates and more gets to the roots of the plants. Using recycled water – we harvest rainwater up at Muriel Jones – is even better.
4. Check your weeds. They’ll be growing fast and furious so now is a good time to get your hoes out and do some gentle hoeing. Go easy around plants that have shallow roots – like onions – as the last thing you want to do is sever the roots of your plants – just those annual weeds. And as for the perennials? Well you might need to get down on your knees and dig out the root – rather than just sever it. [Radio show script – and as for those dandelions? Keep listening]
5. Pay some attention to your bulbs. Lift and divide overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring bulbs and give them a good feed with a liquid fertiliser to encourage a good display next year. Our narcissus and tulips that we have in a galvanised tank have flowered late this year – the tulips aren’t quite yet in bud – so next year we’ll move that tank into a sunnier spot to encourage earlier flowering.
6. Recycle more of your green waste. All those cuttings from the garden and peelings from the kitchen can be put to good use if you have a compost bin or wormery. If you already have one then why not have another? We’ve got two compost bins at the allotment and now we have a wormery – and that’s no longer in the kitchen. The worms are doing a great job of composting tea bags, veg peelings, egg shells – even dog hair – and soon we’ll have some nice, rich worm compost and some liquid fertiliser that we’ll be able to use.
7. Check your grass. Now is a good time to sow grass seed or lay new turf as the weather isn’t too warm and with some dampness in the soil new seed or turf stands a far better chance of getting settled into it’s new home. Take a look at patches of your lawn that might have become damaged or worn – goalmouth areas and edges often suffer – and then either sow new seed or lay a few pieces of turf. And of course get your mower out and give your lawns a weekly trim.
8. Tend your seedlings. All those seeds that you’ve sown and have on all the windowsills in the house should, by now, have started to germinate. That’s the first bit done. What we now need to do is prick them out as soon as they get their first true leaves and to pot them on. The reason we do that is to avoid overcrowding and fungal diseases and to give them more space to grow. And yes, this is the point when you wonder why you sowed so many seeds! Why not give some away or find someone who hasn’t sown the same seeds and then swap some with each other.
9. Take some softwood cuttings. Now is the best time to think about taking some cuttings from the plants that you already have in your garden and that you like and the ones that you’d like more of – for free! Softwood cuttings can be used to propagate a wide range of perennials and deciduous shrubs – including verbena, pelargonium, fuchsia and buddleia. Take soft and flexible young shoot tips early in the morning and hopefully you’ll enjoy new plants later in the year. For free!
10. Choose new plants wisely. Those garden centres, DIY stores, supermarkets and online catalogue offers will be there to tempt us. Make sure that whatever you buy will work in the space that you have – that the plant won’t outgrow your garden, that the plant that you see online is the actual plant that you’ll be getting – not a stock image that shows your plant at maturity rather than in the 3 litre pot it will come in – and that the plant you’ve chosen will flourish in whatever conditions you have.
And don't forget that you can listen to us chat all things gardening on FromeFM. We're on every 4 weeks - even though we messed up the edit for the show that was due out at the beginning of the month! We're working on that now................