So what are our jobs for May – well, just continue sowing your seeds and planting our your seedlings. And the majority of your time will be spent on maintaining your plants and crops, making sure to protect all your hard work. In May with warmer weather, growth rates really start to pick up.
Perennials are plants that live more than two years. Each year then you can divide them to make extra plants and makes a cheap and easy way to fill your garden with more colour.
Some great perennials to divide in May are primroses, aubrieta, aurinia and peonie. Depending on the size of the plant you are dividing you can make up to 4 more plants. It’s also very healthy for plants that may be beginning to struggle. Here’s how to divide your perennials:
- Dig your perennial plant out of the pot or the ground
- Place your spade in the centre of your perennial and cut through the plant, or divide the likes of daffodil bulbs by twisting and pulling them off the clump
- Once you’ve divided the plant, repot each section
- Now you have created multiple plants from just one
Maintenance and Pest control in your vegetables.
This time of the year in the garden is actually a busy one, keeping on top of all the little jobs. Stay on top of weeding – weed beds & borders with garden hoe every 2 weeks. Stay vigilant for pests especially green fly on tomatoes & slugs on seedlings.
My tomatoes in the greenhouse are beginning to flower, and this is where the tomato itself will grow. So make sure to keep the plants well watered to allow for good fruit development, and keep pinching out those side shoots.
Later on in the season we will talk about stopping our tomato plants growing to promote ripening of the fruit that is there. But we will come back to that at a later date. For now concentrate on watering and feeding with a good tomato fertiliser once the tomatoes appear.
Continue earthing up your potatoes until they are well covered. Earthing up potatoes will increase the length of underground stems that will bear potatoes.
When growing our potatoes in large pots or sacks, we planted the tubers into about 10cm of compost at the base of the container. As the shoots emerge, add more compost at regular intervals, 5cm at a time, until the container is almost full. Then allow the plants to grow up from there. Make sure to water well, particularly if they are in containers.
If you plant carrots, it is important to protect them from pests, in particular carrot fly. So you can plant your carrots directly into the soil, or into deep raised beds. Carrots can be sown from March through to late July. Sow carrots thinly at 1cm depth, in rows 15cm apart. Be patient as carrots can take up to three weeks to germinate. Keep the seed bed moist until the seedlings emerge, then water the carrots in dry periods. The main problem encountered with carrots is the carrot fly.
The most reliable technique to control these is securely covering the carrots with an insect net.
This stops the carrot flies laying their eggs. Other techniques are sometimes recommended, such as erecting a 60cm high barrier around the carrots (carrot flies aren’t very good fliers!) and using garlic spray, but these are less reliable methods.
National Biodiversity Week is from 13th to 22nd May this year, and it is worth mentioning how important all plants and animals are to our environment. Biodiversity is a term used to describe the enormous variety of life on Earth.
It can be used more specifically to refer to all of the species in one region or ecosystem. Biodiversity refers to every living thing, including plants, bacteria, animals, and humans. When we work in our gardens, it is important to bear this in mind, perhaps by keeping some areas open to wild flowers (sometimes called weeds!) and watching out for our bees and insects, particularly those we need for pollination like the one pictured on one of my Courgette flowers!
One way to be eco in your garden, is to collect rainwater for watering your garden. It is very healthy for bedding plants in potted containers, window boxes, hanging baskets or any other plants in your garden. Plants need regular watering now that we’re approaching the summer, and rainwater is the best water to use on any of your plants.
Water Butts are the best way of gathering rainwater to use when watering plants. Simply dunk your watering can into the water butt to fill it or if it has a tap, use this to fill your watering can. Gathering rainwater for your garden is far better than using tap water as tap water contains many chemicals, fluorides and salts which can be harmful to the plants. If you don’t have a water butt available to you, a barrel or even an old bathtub can be just as effective!
This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and like Rosemary is a member of the mint family. Very aromatic, it has small, grey-green leaves, and a sweetly earthy flavour. There are many different varieties, but the most readily available in the UK and Ireland are the common or ‘garden’ thyme, and lemon thyme, which has slightly larger leaves and a flavour that is overlaid with a lemony tang. Both types work well with Mediterranean vegetables, eggs, pork, lamb, fish and game. It’s quite hardy, so can withstand long cooking times. For this reason it goes really well with something like Roasted Vegetables.
Thyme thrives in full sun and loves heat. If you are growing in a pot indoors, plant near a sunny window. Soil needs to drain well so it doesn’t get “wet feet.” In the garden, plant with other drought-tolerant perennials.
The flowers, leaves, and oil of Thyme are also used as medicine. Thyme is sometimes used in combination with other herbs. In Herbal Medicine, Thyme is used for swelling (inflammation) of the main airways in the lung (bronchitis), cough, patchy hair loss (alopecia areata), stomach problems, and many other conditions (use in consultation with your doctor).
I hope you are all enjoying your gardening at this stage and very soon you will start to reap the rewards. Already I am harvesting some Iceberg lettuce and salad leaves to have as an accompaniment to my dinners in the evening. Looking forward to adding my own tomatoes, beetroot and onions to the mix. They are growing really well in my greenhouse and raised beds.