The Hawthorn is flourishing in the hedgerows, cow parsley flowers in drifts and the woodlands are filled with a carpet of bluebells - May is here. In the garden, we see lush growth appearing on perennials; the first roses are bursting into flower and fruit is setting after the glorious spring blossom. Here are my top ten gardening jobs for this month.
Here are my top ten gardening tips for May:
1. Repair bare patches of lawn with turf. It is now readily available and provides a quicker solution than sowing grass seed. Prepare the bare soil by levelling off with compost or top soil, then firm in the turf. Ensure that foot traffic is kept to a minimum and water regularly. Within a couple of weeks, you will have a lush patch of lawn.
2. Summer bedding can be planted into the garden once all danger of frost has passed. If containers and hanging baskets have been grown in the greenhouse, harden the plants off by bringing them outside during the day and under protection at night. Ensure that bedding plants are deadheaded regularly to keep them flowering all summer long.
3. Keep on top of watering - it is vitally important to keep plants irrigated, particularly in pots and containers. Place saucers under pots with thirsty plants. If you have planted new hedging during the spring, ensure that it is watered regularly during the first year. Install a water butt or make use of grey water during dry spells.
4. Dahlias and hardy annuals that have been grown under glass can be planted into the garden at the end of the month. Ensure that your plants have been hardened off and that they are planted into pest and weed free soil. If you haven't had time to sow seed, or plant tubers in a protected environment; no need to worry - you can now plant directly into the garden, your plants will flower a little later.
5. Check for infestations of aphids on roses. These can be dealt with by washing them off the buds with a hose onto the soil where they can be dealt with by other beneficial insects. A homemade remedy of soapy water (1 teaspoon of washing up liquid in 3 litres of water) will also control the problem without using harmful pesticides.
6. Courgettes, pumpkins and squash can be sown undercover now and planted out once the seedlings are strong. One plant may be all you need, as these late summer favourites bear a lot of fruit. Place straw around strawberries to keep the fruit clean and mould free. Continue to keep vegetable patches weed free, watch out for bind weed, pull it out (roots and all) before it can get out of control.
7. Give evergreen hedges a trim, making sure there are no birds nesting within. Prune each stem individually on young hedging and only use shears if you have an established hedge. Buxus can be given a trim at the end of the month with sharp, clean topiary shears, heavily prune patches that have been affected by blight; making sure that the afflicted foliage is not added to the compost heap.
8. Remove flowers from Streptocarpus on a weekly basis. Feed them with a liquid tomato feed every couple of weeks and water them regularly. Ensure that all houseplants are watered regularly during the warmer months and avoid placing ferns in direct sunlight.
9. Ponds can quickly fill up with algae and pondweed during the warmer months. Keep on top of this regularly by sieving out excess weed. Keep pond pumps and filters clean. Remove decaying leaves from water lilies and add more aquatic plants to benefit wildlife and marginal plants to pond edges.
10. Late tulips, foxgloves, honesty and peonies make perfect cut flowers for large floral displays in the house. Fill bud vases with Aquilegias, geums and buttercups or put early flowering roses in your favourite vase at your bedside. Everyday there is something new appearing in the cut flower garden. Cut early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid your prized blooms wilting.
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