Gardening Jobs for May
Summer’s just around the corner (woohoo) and everything is romping away and going green before our eyes. So, here’s your checklist for what to do in the garden and on the allotment in May.
5 jobs to do in the garden
1. Plant out summer bedding
If you’re dreaming of the perfect summer pot display, now’s the time to spring into action. Window boxes, hanging baskets and mixed containers can all be planted up now. Choose some plants for height, (nicotiana, geums, verbena) some for colour or drama (salivas, fuchsias, grasses) and the odd trailing number (lobelia or black-eyed Susan).
2. Leave the lawnmower alone
Don't bother wrestling the lawnmower out of the shed for a month and let the grass grow wild. It's #NoMowWay, the perfect time to leave your lawn long to let wildflowers bloom and keep pollinators happy. If you prefer to keep things more trim and tidy, you can still get involved by leaving a few patches or margins long to enjoy the best of both worlds.
3. Lift spring bulbs
Wondering what to do when your chirpy daffs, tulips and other spring bulbs in pots have bloomed their last? Trim the wizened foliage back, lift them, leave them to dry and store them in a paper bag until the autumn. Established bulbs in the ground can also be lifted, divided (by breaking the new bulblets off old ones) and replanted to encourage them to spread.
4. Get dahlias in the ground
Overwintered dahlias can be planted out in the ground in May. Dig a hole twice as big as the rootball and incorporate lots of fresh compost to keep these ravenous plants happy. Don’t forget to add a support now, to keep the brittle stems upright when the showy flowers appear.
5. Tie in climbers
Climbers like clematis, honeysuckle, wisteria and rambling roses will soon be heading sky-high, so now’s the time to keep them in check before rampant growth gets out of hand. Use garden twine to do some garden maintenance and gently tie new growth to supports, train them along a wire or up an arbour.
5 jobs to do on the allotment
1. Earth up potatoes
When the leafy shoots of potato plants are 10-20cm tall, it’s time for earthing up. Use a spade to draw up the soil on either side of the plant into a mini mountain ridge that covers the foliage. This will stop the tubers from going green and increase the crop developing underground.
2. Prick out and harden off
It’s a good time to prick out seedlings grown in trays if you haven’t already. This basically just means transferring individual plants into their own pots, so they have more space to stretch out.
Sturdy-looking plants in their own containers can start to be hardened off…more funny gardening lingo, which involves popping them outside to get used to a bit of tough love during the day, before bringing them in at night. Do this indoor/outdoor dance for a couple of weeks before planting them in The Actual Ground.
3. Start sowing salad
Now’s the time to start sowing small amounts of lettuce and leafy greens in pots or beds. Resow every few weeks to be guaranteed a continuous, cut-and-come-again crop for sensational salads and stir-frys throughout the summer.
4. Direct sow veg
Some seeds like sweetcorn, French beans and green beans are fine to sow directly into the ground. May’s the perfect time to start them off, so you can reap the rewards later in the year.
5. Check for pests
Stay on high alert for critters hell-bent on ****ing up your carefully laid garden plans. Blackfly will gravitate to broad beans but pinching out the growing tips can help. Aphids on carrots, for example, can be spritzed with a homemade pest control spray - try mixing one and one-half teaspoons of a mild liquid soap with some water, and spray the mixture directly on the infected surfaces of the plants. Or you might like to try companion planting to lure them away from your crops.