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  • Writer's pictureJulie Smith

Gardening in May

Keep it warm: keep an eye on the weather and temperatures (especially overnight) as you can have cold nights which might damage your new seedlings until late May. Protect your young plants with horticultural fleece and cloches if in any doubt. The last official frost date is the 25 May (I know, it's late!).

Transplanting your seedlings: once your seedlings have outgrown their first pot/ module, you need to transplant them either in a big pot to keep indoors if it’s too cold outside, or in their final growing space. When are your seedlings big enough to be transplanted? When they have 6 leaves: 2 primordial leaves (called cotyledon) and 4 true leaves, that look like adult leaves. If unsure, wait a bit longer.

Earth up your potatoes: Your spuds should start showing some nice green shoots. Make sure to earth them up to increase your yields. Not sure how? Check my video here.

Grow catch crops: If you are waiting for your main crops to start growing seriously (like potatoes, onion or broad beans), you can use the time before the plants get big to sow a few ‘catch crops’ of quick growing veg in between the existing plants. I particularly like cress, radishes.

Less is more: To avoid gluts later in the year, limit what you actually plant out. For example, squashes germinate well, and if you have excitedly planted 10 seeds (I have!), you probably have 10 seedlings by now. They take quite a bit of space to grow and will be very productive. So you might not want to keep them all (unless you are a master at courgette bead, then go ahead). Swap your spare plants with fellow gardeners, friends and neighbours!

Companion plants: get a well rounded garden by planting a range of insect friendly flowers that will attract pest eaters while creating beautiful pops of colour in your veg patch. On my list are pot marigold, french marigold, sunflowers (the red ones are stunning!), anise hyssop and nasturtium.

Keep the competition at bay: spring is also the time when gardener pests reappear. Check your garden daily and manually remove aphids, and slugs and snails. You can manage aphids by using home-made garlic spray: 1 head of unpeeled garlic crushed + 1 litre of boiling water, cool down, drain through a cloth in a spray bottle. Use liberally on your crops. For bad slugs and snail attack, you can consider using nematode.

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