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May in the Garden (Courtesy of ‘The Sunday Gardener’)
May In The Vegetable Plot
May can be a dry month in which case water Potatoes regularly and keep an eye on the top growth, because if there is a frost, the new growth will need protection. If the top growth does get caught in a frost, the Potato will survive, although it is likely to delay the flowering and harvest. Potatoes like to be planted into a warm soil, so check the soil not the calendar if you want to get them off to a good start. Cover the bed or tubs with fleece if there is frost. The early potatoes may need earthing up for the first time in late May/early June, which helps to improve the crop as it allows more potatoes to form as the season goes on.
Vegetables to sow now
Continue to sow under glass the more tender vegetables such as French beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, squashes, and courgettes. These will need to be grown on under glass until frost free conditions are available in the vegetable plot which means late May/early June, depending on where you are in the country and the garden aspect. Delay planting out any of these vegetable until frost has passed.
Onions and garlic can be safely planted out.
Even if the plant is fully hardy, it is essential to "harden off" plants grown under glass so they are ready to be planted outside. Also plant purchased on line and in garden centres will have been grown in ideal conditions and need hardening off before planting outside in variable weather conditions. Towards the end of the month, put the plants out on milder days and nights, gradually exposing them to the outside conditions. On colder days and nights, bring back under glass or cover with a fleece gradually reducing the cover until they are out 24/7 and acclimatised to the growing conditions outside.
If conditions are right and the soil warmed up, you can sow outside the hardier vegetable such as carrots, broad beans, onions, garlic and purple sprouting broccoli. Carrots always need protection against carrot fly and this needs to be a physical barrier such as euro mesh (see image left). Carrot fly will severely damage the crop and although it is a nuisance to erect mesh around the crop it is the only safe way. Specialist varieties such as Flyaway are less vulnerable but not guaranteed.
Vegetables to sow
Sow courgettes, pumpkins,squashes and cucumbers under glass to get established before planting out in early June. Don't be tempted to do plant out earlier, as these are very frost sensitive and if they get frosted the plants will collapse. Only plant out cucumbers varieties suitable for growing outside
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