May (late Spring) to do List
1. Continue pulling rhubarb regularly and water clumps during very dry weather to encourage new growth.
2. Pinch out the tips of broad bean stems to remove the soft growth which blackfly find so attractive.
3. Continue regular successional sowing of leafy salads, radish, beetroot etc.
Transplant young Brussel sprout plants raised from earlier sowings to
their final permanent rows, leaving about 60cm between plants.
Harden off sweetcorn, courgette, peppers and tomatoes before planting
out. There have been frosts in late May so give them a chance by
protecting young plants at night.
6.Plant sweetcorn in blocks
30cm apart each way rather than in rows. Sweetcorn is pollinated
by wind: by growing the plants in blocks there is more chance of
pollination rather than in rows. The male flowers appear as
tassels at the top of the plant and the pollen falls onto the female
parts lower down the plants.
7. Spread straw along rows and
under swelling strawberry fruits to keep them off the soil, reducing
the risk of attack by slugs and getting covered
Thin gooseberry fruits using the crop for cooking. Remove every
alternate fruit along stems, leaving more room for the remaining ones to
Transplant leek seedlings into their growing position. Apply a general
organic fertiliser a few days beforehand. If the seeds were sown
in seed trays and the plants left to grow until 10-12cm high, they can
be planted in individual holes. Use a dibber to make a series of
holes 15cm deep, and put one plant in each hole, about 30cm apart each
way. Do not firm: watering them in will automatically wash some
soil down the hole to cover the roots. If seeds were
multiple-sown in modular trays for deep beds, the small clumps of five
or six plants can be planted in their clusters15-22cm apart each
way. This way you get more weight of crop within your growing
area than if they were grown in conventional straight rows.
Hoeing bare ground will keep down weeds as they germinate. Weeds
are much easier to kill off at this stage, rather than when they are
larger. It also allows them less opportunity to set seeds.
Mulching with organic matter will help prevent the growth of further
weeds. Water soil before applying mulch if the ground is dry.
Do not be too hasty in cutting off the foliage from bulbs, which is
needed to help them build up reserves for next spring. Leave the
foliage for at least six weeks after flowering.
12. In a
nursery bed, sow seeds of wallflowers and forget-me-nots and of
biennial flowers like honesty and Canterbury bells. These can be
transplanted to their flowering position later in the year.
Towards the end of Spring sow nasturtiums outside.
1kg pink rhubarb stalks
400g caster sugar (don't use golden - it muddies the colour)
the rhubarb, trim the stalks and discard the base and any leaves. Cut
the stalks into 3cm lengths. Put in a large jar with the sugar. Shake
everything around, put the lid on and leave overnight. The sugar will
draw the juice out of the rhubarb.
After 24 hrs, add the gin,
seal and shake everything around. Leave for about 4 weeks before
drinking. You can strain the liquor off through a muslin-lined sieve
and transfer to a bottle, or just leave the rhubarb and booze in the
jar and ladle it into drinks that way. Over time the rhubarb and the
gin go a much paler colour - this doesn't look as dramatic.
Dates for the Diary
from experts including Chris Baines, and masterclasses in garden
management are part of the Wildlife Gardeners' Day at the WWT London
Wetland Centre on 19 May. wlgf.org
seen paintings by plantsman Cedric Morris are on display until 22 July
at the Garden Museum. Cedric Morris: Artist Plantsman is the
first museum show in three decades and features 34 works, some from
private collections. gardenmuseum.org.uk
is the beginning of moth-flight season for many UK species. Night
scented flowering plants such as jasmine, evening primrose, and
honeysuckly attract moths into your garden, in turn encouraging bats at
the start of their breeding season.