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Gardening Column – May 2022
May is the month when everything gets busy in the garden and even the most relaxed gardeners become inspired.
Plant growth is steaming ahead with seeds germinating, plants and shrubs bursting into flower and annual weeds popping up. It’s also a time to think about introducing some edible plants into your garden and there are plenty of easy ways to enjoy full-flavoured crops, even when space is tight.
For novice gardeners, focus on herbs. It doesn’t take long to grow herbs from seed and if you get sowing now, you will have them to enjoy throughout the summer. Parsley, coriander and dill can all be sown direct in the soil this month and you will be able to harvest them from July. Basil is best sown indoors in pots, but again you will be able to take your pick of its leaves from July.
If you have a semi-shaded spot in your garden you could try growing a selection of cut-and-come-again salad leaves. Not only delicious to eat, they will save you having to buy bags of salad from the supermarket – which means you will also be cutting down on plastic packaging.
If you are going to grow them in a container, pick one that is approximately 30cms wide or larger. Try mizuna loose-leaved lettuce, rocket or endive. You can also sow pak choi, Swiss chard and beetroot to harvest their colourful, tasty leaves. Once the salad leaves are 10cms tall – in about three to four weeks – snip them off with scissors to just above ground level and they will re-sprout for a second or third time. If you give them some liquid plant food after each harvest, they will re-grow quicker.
Dwarf French beans is the veg that keeps on giving during the summer. As long as you pick them as soon as they are ready they will keep on cropping all summer long. They need good fertile soil, so make sure you dig in some compost. Climbing varieties need canes for support. Young plants can be planted out at the end of May or you can sow seeds now directly into the soil where you want them to grow, at 20cm intervals. Water the soil when it gets dry and if you sow a second batch next month, you can alternate picking beans between the two all summer.
If you’re new to growing vegetables, beetroot is a good, easy-to-grow option. The seeds don’t need much encouragement to germinate and they require little maintenance once established. Being a root crop, beetroot does best if the soil is free of large stones. The same is true of carrots. If you want carrots with plenty flavour, it’s definitely worth growing your own. Both beetroot and carrot seeds tend to germinate within a couple of weeks and you should be harvesting fresh beetroot in 8 to 10 weeks and carrots in 14 to 16 weeks.
Finally, for a touch of colour, try some edible flowers. They can be grown from seed and are easy to sow. Nasturtiums seeds are simply pushed straight into soil in spring or summer and the flowers taste a touch peppery. Pot Marigolds are also sown at this time of year and their orange flowers have a zingy citrus flavour.
As the Royal Horticultural Society says, as bulbs fade and herbaceous borders grow in leaps and bounds, it is clear summer is approaching. Sowing and planting out bedding can begin, depending on regional weather variations, and you can take softwood cuttings. It’s also time to get back into the lawn mowing regime as the lawn will be loving the warmer temperatures this month brings.
Top three jobs this month: watch out for late frosts and protect tender plants; earth up potatoes and plant any that you might still have and plant out summer bedding at the end of the moth – except in cold areas.
Growing your own vegetables can by healthy and fun. NO_B17garden01