What a difference a month makes

May 2013

May is here and after the late start due to the weather in March and April at last the garden and allotment looks more productive.

The perennials are filling out the borders at the front of the house and I will soon have to offer some support to my delphiniums. Wallflowers, polyanthus and violas look stunning in the borders and should continue through to the end of the month when they will be dug up and replaced with summer bedding.

What a difference a month makes

Perennial border growing well

What a difference a month makes

My polyanthus, wallflower and viola border

Although the daffodils were later to start flowering this year they have now gone over and I am removing the old flowers as they finish. This will stop them forming a seed pod and will allow the foliage to gradually die back and build up the bulbs for next years display. I have made a note of when they stopped flowering as they will require 6-8 weeks from that date before I can cut the foliage back.

I grow a lot of hostas in the ground as well as in pots and last month they were just popping new shoots through the soil. This month the plants in the borders are about to uncurl their leaves and the ones in containers have already put on a lot of growth. A few slug control pellets will soon be sprinkled to stop any local slugs or snails from spoiling the display.

What a difference a month makes

Container hosta

The lawn was scarified and over-seeded about three weeks ago and has started to recover and is beginning to once again look lush and green. This should be looking its best by the end of the month when I will be preparing the borders for the summer bedding.

The plants I am growing for these displays are looking good with many now moved to the cold frame to harden off. The exceptions to this are the Begonia semperflorens that I grew from plugs and look superb – these will remain in the glasshouse up until planting out time, along with the French Marigolds that were pricked out last month. The marigolds are now making nice plants that will be just the right size for planting out at the end of the month.

What a difference a month makes

Begonia plug plants

What a difference a month makes

French marigolds

A lot has been happening down on the allotment, the potatoes have started to poke through and I have just earthed these up to protect the developing tubers and the foliage from any potential night frosts. The onion sets are poking through and the garlic and shallots I planted into trays and then transplanted into the plot are really growing now. My first sowing of beetroot and carrots are just coming through, but I am still waiting for the parsnips which should appear soon.

What a difference a month makes

Earthed-up spuds

What a difference a month makes

Garlic and shallots

The pea Twinkle plants I raised and transplanted are starting to climb the nets and the pea Hurst Greenshaft sown direct when these were planted are just poking through and should be ready to eat in 12-14 weeks. I have just sown another row of mangetout peas to follow on from these.

What a difference a month makes

Peas growing nicely

The lettuce, cabbage and Brussels sprout plants have been planted out under my net structure made from plastic conduit pipe and bamboo canes with a net stretched over to give good bird protection.  There is enough room left in this structure to plant some later brassicas of cauliflower, January king cabbage and sprouting broccoli that I have just sown in the greenhouse. I will prick these out and transplant into the plot once the lettuces have finished.

What a difference a month makes

Undercover brassicas and lettuce

Under glass I have just sown my first batch of runner and French beans into trays – these will germinate soon and be moved into the coldframe to harden off before planting out at the end of the month.

Courgette, marrow and cucumber seeds have all been sown on their edge into half filled pots and placed in the propagator . As soon as they germinate I will move them out of the propagator and once the seed leaves reach the top of the pot I will carefully fill around the seedling with more compost, as this will make a shorter, sturdier plant and the covered stem will throw out more roots. These will not be planted out until the end of May or early June, depending on the weather, along with the sweetcorn plants sown late last month.

What a difference a month makes

Chrysanthemums ready to plant out

Next job I have is to finish putting up a windbreak around where I am going to plant my exhibition onions and leeks next week, plus I must prepare the ground for my spray chrysanthemums that have been hardened off and are ready to plant.

Happy Gardening!

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