Now that May is with us, we normally look to better weather to plant out summer colour and tasty veg. However, English Spring weather is almost never the same two days running. “Here we go gathering nuts in May……” is a well know jingle, but what nuts can possibly be gathered In May? The web gives as many answers as sites, but the last line, “on a cold and frosty morning” is of interest to gardeners. We do experience frost or very cold conditions early May which will kill or retard delicate plants put out too early. Keep courgettes, French beans, dahlias and the like ‘till end of May or early June. Watch the 10 day forecasts for warnings of cold days.
The fine early spring seems to have resulted in a great crop of fruit. The plants will naturally thin out excess fruit, known as the ‘June drop’. It often needs a helping hand and to get really great apples or plums etc., remove the baby fruits to just one or two per bunch, even remove some bunches. Sounds hard but you get far better produce. If we get another warm dry spell, keep an eye on watering.
Established fruit bushes, trees and plants need 2-3 gallons per watering. Record the time a hose takes to fill a gallon can, so that you can give them the required amount of water. Saves a lot of lifting and walking if you have a large garden and lots of thirsty plants.
As plants finish flowering, pop the seed heads and yellowing foliage into the compost heap. When putting grass or other material into the heap, try not to put in more than a 4 – 6” layer. More will only go solid and stop the breakdown cycle, so leave some out to put in later or to mulch plants and hedges.
Keep small successional sowings of veg and sow any annual flower seeds as soon as it warms up a bit. There are a number “when to sow” sites on the web and in books, but especially around here, the edge of the Chilterns, conditions are often a little cooler, so wait a week, the plants will catch up. If you planted over wintering beans etc., you will soon be able to reap the rewards of your hard work.