When the Garden Centre first started in the early 1970s bedding plants were not even offered for sale until June 1st, because of the fear of frost. Last year I put out the early bedding display at the GC in late March, this year it will be much later. As I write in mid-April the freezing East wind has finally stopped and we are basking 10 degrees and a southerly wind.
We spent the winter doing a makeover of the plantarium in the garden centre and we are pleased with our customers’ reaction, it was worth being out in the cold all winter!
We cannot guarantee being free from frost yet and care should be taken until the end of May. Many gardeners like to get an early start on their hanging baskets and make them up and keep them under protection so this gets the baskets off to a great start.
So as we get into May the weather warms the soil and the days get longer so more chance to get in the garden and prepare it for enjoying in the summer. If you are looking to sit in the garden and enjoy the fruits of your labours then get the wooden furniture ready by spraying it with ‘Patio Magic ‘cleaner which will keep it clean all summer and no scrubbing required. It can also be used with the same advantages on the patio, and of course with the hosepipe ban you don’t have to use the pressure washer.
There are lots of jobs to do in May/June. For the flower gardener in May there is the bedding and perennial borders plus pots, tubs and hanging baskets. Plant new perennials as you find space and keep up with the supports for existing ones. Plant dahlias, tie in clematis, and sow summer bedding seed directly into their growing places. If you have summer pots and tubs always use new compost as the winter compost will be exhausted now and should be spread on the borders to increase the humus there. Existing shrubs in tubs should be given a tonic to replace trace elements and then fed regularly or top dressed with an inch or two of fresh compost and a slow release fertilizer. While the spring bulbs are still in leaf give them a feed with sulphate of potash, to feed them and ensure great show of blooms next year. Plant up your hanging basket and hang it in the greenhouse. Conical baskets offer deeper rooting and may help with keeping the basket looking good for longer, don’t forget to make a hole in the lining for drainage.
There were considerable problems with a virus that attacked the bizzy lizzies last year, as a result will only be stocking a few plants this year as there is no spray for this disease at present and although it might not occur this year if the summer is damp and cool again then almost certainly it will.
Veggie gardening in May is hectic. Daily checking of the greenhouse on warm days. Spray the path with water to increase humidity. Pot on the tomatoes and cucumbers. Spray a shading on the outside of the glass. Time to take cuttings of overwintered plants in the greenhouse. Prepare the runners wigwam. If you didn’t start your runners under cover last month then sow them outside this month. Harden off young runners started last month before planting out. Mulch strawberries, and repair the netting on the fruit cage. Lots of vegetables to sow this month including, quick crops like lettuce, beetroot, turnip, radish, rocket (someone told me that wild rocket does not get the holes in the leave that some types do) spinach and spring onion. Always have some fleece to hand in case of late frosts. Plant herbs there should be a good selection as the month moves on. Plant summer and winter squashes and courgettes late in the month. These need lots of water. Start winter cabbage in pots under cloches. Plant young leeks in modules for transplanting later.
Lawn can be close cut weekly now and repairs undertaken, good preparation before sowing lawn seed pay off. Spread lawn weed feed and moss killer, if not done in April.