Yet another frantic month, but soon we can sit back with a glass of something cool and admire the results of the last couple of back breaking months. May however is not that month….
Even though a tad on the chilly side this month is a frenzy of annual flower seed planting and planting out veg plants and seedlings brought on in the last few months somewhere slightly less frigid that the plot.
I’m sowing more peas, last lot though. Getting the bean beds ready with plenty of rich compost, they’re greedy feeders. For the second year I’m trying the 3 sisters model of Sweetcorn, Squash and Beans, last years second sowing worked well mainly due to position near the water butt! This year there are more courgette, patty pan and Pumpkins (about 20 all told), 30 Sweetcorn plants and 2 bean plants per corn plant. I’ve put in Borlotti beans because I want a good supply of their dried beans for winter casseroles and soups.
Tomatoes go out this month but be sure the frost has passed and do acclimatise them, indeed any plant, moving from a warm greenhouse to the vagaries of outside. A week – 10 days should do it, outside temps during the day, inside temps at night. Mine have been outside in a sheltered cold frame for a week or so no and are holding up well. I’m looking forward to a bumper crop of different varieties htis year, inspired by Kew on a Plate.
Net those currants that are swelling with juicy goodness. Gooseberries should be swelling with greeness, or purpleyness if you have a dark variety.
A late prune of stone fruit can still be done this month, plums, peaches and damson in my case. The aim being to push all the growth into a few fruit.
If you haven’t already then dig over your beds and rake to a fine tilth. Which means rake it till the lumps of earth much smaller than a pea! If you’re no dig, as I am, then ensure the mulched bed is weed free. Then it;s time to plant the seed. These days there are so many to chose from most growing to maturity in about 12 weeks. To avoid the glut of flowers in 12 weeks, plant little an often through May and into the first week of June. I know this is not common garden advice but it’s a bit like planting early spud varieties late in the season, you get a a small crop late in the season. Advice I was given by Charlie Ryrie was to plant much more densely than you think(than it says on the packet!), remember the cut flower is a crop and will be whipped out and composted once it has done it’s dash. I am planting about double the recommendation and watching what happens. You don’t need to feed your annuals, well maybe a little for cornflowers that run for a very long season, feeding often results in lots of greenery and not many flowers.
I’m adding to the perennial beds I am developing with as many annuals as I could fit into my growing space. A combination of early started seedlings and direct sown. This is partly to spread the flowering period and partly to test the growing environment on my plot. Annual planted so far Zinnia – Z.Mammoth, Z.Sprite, Z.Dahlia and Z.Queen Red Lime, Verbascum violetta, Icelandic Poppies – P.Champagne Bubbles and P.Hazy Days , Cornflowers only in blue, Scabiosa Back in Black and the species, Nicotiana mutabilis, N. Lime Green and N.sylvestris, Digitalis ferrunginea and D. Heywoodii, Giant Larkspur in blues and pinks and of course a long row of canes aupporting a plenthora of Sweet peas.
The bulbs and corms planted late all performed well from 30 Anemone blanda bought for 75p about half came up and flowered, the Ranunculus fared slightly less well with 10 coming from 40 planted (£1), the narcissus (30) and Tulip China Pink (12) all flowered. They will all stay in place this year be well fed and watered and perhaps next year will come back a little stronger.
Stake any plants likely to flop later in the year, Delphinium, Asters, Chrysamthemums, Coreopsis for example. Dahlias can be staked now but as they’re not really up and about yet, too cold still, you can hold this job off until they’re about 30cm high.
I’m off to Chelsea Flower show today. Very excited to see the spectacle.