‘April showers bring forth May flowers’ says the rhyme, and we’ve certainly had the April showers – so fingers crossed for the May flowers! We do love May in the garden. The weather is generally nice enough that gardening feels like a pleasure not a chore, and lighter evenings mean longer days outside. Here’s some key things to do in the garden in May.
Plant bedding plants
We can finally start to get some colour into the garden this month. If you haven’t already put your sweetpeas in, get them in as soon as you can. Later in the month, you can plant out bright bedding plants including begonias, marigolds, fuchsias and cosmos. You can also sort your hanging baskets out now. If you put the frames away in the shed at the end of last year, get them out, remove the spiders carefully and give them a good wash (the frames, not the spiders). Line with a new layer of moss or a purpose made liner, and fill with compost. If you can’t water your hanging baskets every day, you could also consider adding some water retention gel, available from garden centres. This has the ability to hold around 400 times its own weight in water and gradually release it into the plants.
With late frosts hopefully over, you can renovate your pots for the summer. If you’ve left pots out all winter, take a look and see if existing plant are still viable. They may need a little TLC to look their best, or they may need to be thrown into the compost heap as you start again. If you’re keeping the plants, carefully lift them out and lay aside. Empty any existing soil or compost out and wash the pot thoroughly. Clear the hole at the bottom and add a pieces of broken pot or stone to improve drainage. Half-fill the pot with fresh compost. Now turn your attention to the plant as it would probably benefit from a good root prune. Using scissors or secateurs, remove the untidy, feathery roots and shape the root ball neatly. Don’t be afraid to be quite brutal – your plant will thank you with renewed growth! Re-pot your plant and fill up with compost, not forgetting to water it well.
Things to do in the garden in May: Sort out weeds
Yup, we’re still on the subject of weeds! This is the month that they really start to take off, as there’s generally plenty of rain but temperatures are warmer. ‘Little and often’ is the way to go here. Catch dandelions before they get to the seed-head stage and you’ll dramatically improve your chances of keeping them under control!
Fruit and vegetables
You can start to sow ‘cut and come again’ salad leaves now, ready for summer picnics. For larger crops, May is your last chance to sow sweetcorn and strawberry runners. You can sow courgettes, beans, carrots, beetroot and broccoli directly into the ground now. Take care to keep the young seedlings well irrigated! If you don’t already have one, how about installing a water butt to recycle water?
Things to do in the garden in May: Mow regularly
Your lawn will probably do its best to turn into a jungle this month! If you seeded the bare patches last month, they should be sprouting happily by now. Otherwise, that’s another job for this month. Mowing the lawn regularly (once a week or so) will help it look its best for the summer. You might also need to spend some time tidying up the edges after the winter.
All this hard work is on the point of paying off, as it’s nearly summer and garden parties await!
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