What to sow and do in a May kitchen garden
Once the risk of late frost has passed, it’s time to sow many new seeds in the kitchen garden. If the spring has been a cold one, it’s also possible to start off seeds now that are usually sown in April – they will catch up by the summer.
Seeds to sow outdoors in May
· Cabbage (winter)
· Fennel (Florence / vegetable)
· French and runner beans (beware of frost)
· Salsify and scorzonera
· Sprouting broccoli (for next spring)
Sequential sowings to make outdoors in May
· Broad beans
· Broccoli (calabrese and Summer sprouting)
· Brussels sprouts
· Leaf beet
· Lettuce and other salad leaves
· Kohl rabi
· Oriental leaves
· Soft herbs
· Spring onions
Seeds to sow indoors in May
· Borlotto beans
· Melon (heated propagator)
· Summer squash
· Winter squash
There are also a few garden jobs to do in May that will make your kitchen garden more productive.
Planting out in May
· Harden off any indoor plants that are ready to be planted outdoors.
· Protect hardier seedlings against late frosts using fleece or cloches.
· Plant maincrop potato tubers (and any remaining early potatoes).
· Plant out seedlings of Alpine strawberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celeriac, celery, courgette, outdoor (ridge) cucumbers, Florence fennel, globe artichokes, leeks, pumpkins, summer squash, outdoor tomatoes, winter squash.
· Plant sun-loving plants in the greenhouse: aubergines, chillies, greenhouse cucumbers, melons, sweet peppers, greenhouse varieties of tomato.
Remember most tender seedlings should only be planted outdoors once the risk of frost has completely passed. That’s usually the end of May in most areas of the UK.
Care of vegetables in May
· Pinch out sideshoots on tomato plants that are cordon types (long vines, also known as indeterminate).
· Cover vegetables with fleece or net after sowing or planting to keep out insect pests.
· Earth up potatoes as they grow.
Care of fruit in May
· Put a mulch of straw, landscape fabric or fibre mats under strawberry plants to keep berries off the soil.
· Remove some gooseberries from bushes to get bigger berries in June (the ‘thinnings’ are edible if cooked).
· Thin out overcrowded canes of summer raspberries, keeping about 6 strong shoots per plant.
· Protect fruit tree blossom from late frosts using fleece.
· Tie in healthy sideshoots of trained fruit trees.
Other garden jobs to do in May
· Ventilate your greenhouse, cloches or coldframes on sunny days.
· Add shade nets or mesh to greenhouses if there is a risk of plants scorching.
Garden jobs to keep on top of in May
· Slug protection and other pest control
· Support plants as they grow
· Watering seedlings and new plantings
Do you have an allotment or a kitchen garden? What are you growing this year?
Slugs! The way to stay on top of them is to sprinkle bran (the sawdust -like stuff you buy from a health food shop) in piles around the garden. Then at night, armed with a torch, and whatever is your favourite way of execution, go around disposing of the slugs. They absolutely LOVE bran and they crawl all over it. Once I have gone round my garden and disposed of the first lot, when I get back to the beginning again, there are more. The bran needs to be replaced once it get wet. This works! Remember that slug pellets are lethal to hedgehogs who are a gardener’s friend in keeping down pests. They die a very painful death if they eat slugs killed by slug pellets. They are now an endangered species, partly due to poisoning.
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