May in the Garden
Busy, busy, busy sums up May for gardeners. The soil is warming, the weather improving and the result is everything is bursting into life and jobs need doing. The trick is not to feel overwhelmed.
Just where your veggies need to be so the weeds quite fancy the same space. Don’t try to do all the weeds at one time. At the very least mentally split up your plot into areas that can be weeded or dug in about an hour. This is a manageable chunk of time to find, your back will thank you for not overdoing things and at the end you will have another bit of your garden sorted. The same logic applies to hoeing – just target one bit at a time.
Now you have a space to plant out your young plants which have been happily growing with protection. These need to be hardened off before planting out. This very important step takes about 10 days and can be overlooked in the excitement of spring, please don’t as it acclimatises your plants to a life outside. Start by moving your plants outside during the daytime for a few days, then you can leave them out overnight (unless it turns suddenly cold). As the leaves and stems firm up they are more resistant to wind and weather and will be ready to plant out into a patch that you have weeded and dug…
Remember to have fleece or cloches handy should the temperature take a dip. Also consider netting your crops for protection. This might be a fine net to keep butterflies off your brassicas or something to deter pigeons. We have to net our young onions because the blackbirds seem to think they are worms – and after they discover their error they just hop along the row trying each one (we follow behind and replant them so netting saves everyone a lot of effort)
Now you have planted you can think about successional sowing. This will mean a more steady supply of tasty things through the seasons rather than everything being ready at the same time. Salad crops are the best place to start if you have not done this before. Sowing lettuces every few weeks will result in a crop all the way through to the late autumn and it means that you can enjoy lots of different varieties through the year. Depending on how many people you are growing for you can sow a whole packet at a time or a short row or even a pinch of seeds. You can do this with radishes, beetroot, spring onions and baby leaves. However there are lots of other crops that you can grow like this – broccoli, calabrese, cabbage, carrot, kale, kohl rabi and turnips to name just some.
Whilst you are waiting for these next round of crops to sprout there are other things you can do. You can mulch around established plants (great for water retention when we get to summer and helps to suppress weeds), continue to fill or top off your runner bean trench, earth up early spuds, put in supports for your peas and have a bit of time to weed and dig the next area…