Welcome back to our adventure into the world of Gardening. How have you all been getting on? I hope some of my advice has been helpful and maybe jolted some of you into a bit of action!! Doing the groundwork now will help you to get more from your garden this summer.
Some people say that May is the start of Summer, but here in Ireland it is really still late spring, though in truth it can also have some of the nicest weather of the year too. We just need to be careful as there can huge variations in daytime and night-time temperatures still and we can have a lot of rain which can stop us getting out into the garden, and at the same time, we can also have periods of too little rain where we need to stay on top of the watering, and feeding our precious plants!! We have put a lot of effort in so far, we want to keep as much alive as possible!
But what if you have done nothing so far? May is still a good time for sowing seeds, and the warmer temperatures mean they should come on quicker. By the middle or end of May you can probably begin planting your seeds straight into your prepared vegetable beds, and some quick growing flowers too. And as previously mentioned, a trip to your local garden centre will help and you can buy the plants already established.
Now that we are into May, things will move quickly, but we can also be in an odd lull. That first wonderful splurge of spring bulbs is almost at an end while early summer-flowering species have yet to come into bloom.
May is a month when we can start to put out more tender plants, but only to harden off and not in exposed areas. All the country should be frost free by the end of the month, but it is always an idea to have a fleece or cloche handy to protect anything vulnerable.
There are some fairly hardy vegetables and plants however that you could think about planting out this month:
In the veg plot:
Broad beans, Runner beans, Peas, Onions, Garlic, Carrots, Beetroot, salad crops, Leeks or Strawberries.
In the garden: all hardy perennials & evergreens. These are plants you may buy from the garden centre or online, which are described as hardy. In terms of annuals, you can plant out Sweet peas, and sow hardy annuals where they are to flower such as Sunflowers, Cornflowers, Zinnia, Nasturtium, Calendula and Nigella.
Delay planting outside: Even in May the weather can still be cold and some plants are best under glass and / or delay planting out at the end of the month or Early June. These are the more tender vegetables which are: French Beans, Squashes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Melon, Chillies, Aubergine Sweet corn, Courgettes and Sweet peppers.
A lovely idea for this time of year is to plant or buy a Hanging Basket. If you want to start planting hanging baskets, May is your last chance if you want to have your plants in bloom before summer. Petunias, fuchsia and geraniums all work great in a hanging basket, but really it’s up to you. Obviously there are certain guidelines such as keeping the taller plants in the centre, but after that a hanging basket is a great way of bringing some of your favourite plants together in a small space. Try adding some trailing plants that will grow downwards from the basket such as trailing Lobelia or Petunias.
Greenhouses and Polytunnels
I have mentioned before about planting in a greenhouse, and if you find you enjoy your gardening, it is something worth investing in. You can go big with a large on
e made of actual glass, but there are other cheaper plastic versions and some that are quite light, but you need to be careful with them and protect from severe wind. You may only get one or two years from these types.
Another alternative is a Polytunnel, which is usually rounded and therefore less prone to being caught by the wind. It is sturdier and should last longer.
Whichever you choose, there is something to go with your budget and with the space you have available. Just make a choice that will suit you. This should allow you the flexibility to extend your growing season and can also be an area to work in during showery weather, where you can be planting seeds or potting up seedlings.
Our herb for this month is Rosemary. Another of the staples for our kitchen garden, it is a shrub with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers which is native to the Mediterranean. It looks well in your garden but also adds a lovely fragrance to the air.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender. The herb not only tastes good in culinary dishes, such as rosemary chicken and lamb, but it is also a good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B-6.
A great resource for information on your garden that is particularly relevant to Ireland is called GIY.ie It is an Irish website, started to encourage us to Grow It Yourself, and they also have a lovely show on RTE with lots of information on growing your own vegetables. They recently ran a Grow it Forward campaign to encourage people to sow their own seeds to grow vegetables that they can then share with others. My pack arrived this week and I am looking forward to getting them into the ground.
I’ll keep you posted on how I get on. I hope you get planting too.