The last Month of Spring is upon us and with this there are lots of new and exciting jobs to be carrying on with in the garden. With summer fast approaching its time to plant out beddings, clear out spring flowers and make way for colourful summer borders & delicious crops. Our May Gardening Tips are sure to give you inspiration and helpful advice on getting the garden prepped in time for those all important summer BBQ’s.
Gardening Basics in May
May signals the beginning of summer, warmer weather and new life. With this the garden needs a little extra attention to keep things looking ship shape. Now is the time to start a regular, weekly lawn mowing routine as the grass starts to grow quicker in the heat. Switch to the lower summer blades and ensure the lawn is well watered after a hot, dry day to keep it looking lush & green.
Generally speaking May is the time to really up the watering regime, water all plants early in the morning and later on in the evening. Conserving & recycling water when possible. Lastly, get those greenhouse vents & doors open on hot days to promote air flow & prevent the plants from overheating.
Earth potatoes and plant any remaining as early as possible. Harvest asparagus, spinach & rhubarb and thin out the direct sown veg such as carrots & lettuce. Its important to keep up to date with weeding the next few months to ensure weeds aren’t competing for nutrients, water & light, particularly around the garlic and onions.
Another top May Gardening Tip is to sow out brussell sprouts, cabbages and cauliflowers so they are ready in time for Christmas dinner. They can be sown indoors or out, but be vigilant of any late frosts. Courgettes, pumpkins & squashes should also be sown indoors ready to plant out seedlings next month.
One of the most important May Gardening Tips to note down is to protect flourishing fruit trees and soft fruit bushes. Do this by using netting to keep birds at bay. It is also time to get checking for caterpillars and any other insects which may be enjoying munching on your crops.
May marks the time to start harvesting rhubarb. Harvest the stems when they are as thick as your finger and 20cm+ tall. Only pick a third of the rhubarb stems at a time. When storing your rhubarb wrap it in plastic and do not wash until ready to use. It should last up to a week in the fridge. For inspiration on what to do with your crop try one of these rhubarb recipes from the Kitchen Garden Magazine.
Plant out strawberry seedlings into planters or hanging baskets and cover with straw. This will not only protect the plants from weeds but also lift the berries off the ground. Use netting to protect the fruit from prying birds, ready for the first harvest next month.
From the middle to the end of May is considered the best time to plant out bedding plants, summer hanging baskets and summer flowering containers. Harden off plants now by by putting them out in the day and keeping them covered or back in the greenhouse over night util the end of the month and colder evenings.
Take the time to inspect your roses and other flowers & plants for pests and disease. Pick off any larvae as soon as you spot them particularly Viburnum beetle and lily beetle. Check roses for signs of blackspot and treat immediately with a fungicide if found.
Prune, lift & divide any clumps of spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and lift forget me knots to prevent spreading. Tie up sweet peas with twine or rings and cut off side-shoots to encourage longer stemmed flowers to cut. Provide supports for herbaceous plants such as oriental poppies and peonies by making your own natural supports – binding twigs such as birch or hazel.
Now is a great time to sow any herb seeds you have left over. Warmth loving plants like basil & thyme need to be sown indoors first but hardier plants like coriander and dill can be sown directly outdoors in beds or containers.
Herbs are plentiful in May with leafy herbs like Mint, Sage & Oregano ready to harvest. Many herbs are also coming into flower such as chives, common mallow and calendula.
Gardening Projects in May
Three great ideas for starting a new garden project this month.
ONE – Design a Kitchen Garden
Growing your own crops can be very rewarding on many levels. Design your own kitchen garden with our handy guide with tips on finding the best position, laying the foundations & what to plant. How to Design a Kitchen Garden
Westminster Stone produce a range of paving & garden features. Perfect for creating your own kitchen garden. Visit our Professional Profiles page to discover wonderful UK based Garden Designers who can help design & create a garden that works for you.
TWO – Make a Bird Bath
Invite beautiful birds into your garden by providing a haven for them to drink and splash about in. Summer is a critical time for wildlife as water can become scarce. By creating a bird bath or area with water in your garden, you can really help birds, butterflies and other wildlife thrive.
Create your own DIY bird bath by sourcing a shallow bowl or bucket, even an old bin lid can work well. Raise the bird bath using bricks or sleepers to keep them safe from prying cats. Find a step by step guide here: Rspb bird bath
If DIY isn’t your thing – try placing one of our wildlife tables in a safe area of the garden. Try planting wild flowers around it to create a calming, colourful space to watch and be close to nature.
THREE – Recyclable Plant Labels
Make your own recyclable plant labels that you can use year in year out. There are tonnes of materials you already have lying around the house and garden. Such as wooden pegs, corks on a stick, laminated drawings and even broken terracotta pots can be reused as rustic plant labels.
One of the most fun ways to create plant labels is to use flat pebbles. Paint them in the colours and style of the fruit or vegetables. Use a sharpie to write the names. Once the paint is dry give it a coat of PVA to seal and protect it from water damage.