Jobs to do in the garden
JOBS TO DO IN THE GARDEN THIS MONTH
Hopefully, as May arrives the days will be getting warmer and certainly longer
which will allow for all those extra jobs at this time of year.
IN THE FLOWER GARDEN………
· You can start planting out summer bedding plants once you’re sure all risk of frost is past;
· Once your spring bulbs are finished allow them to die back fully and don’t be tempted to ‘tidy them up’ by cutting back the foliage. Add some liquid fertiliser around the clumps of bulbs for a better display next year;
· Harden-off half-hardy plants by leaving them outside during the day and bringing them back in overnight for several days before planting out;
· If you haven’t already done so, plant up hanging baskets in good quality compost with slow-release fertiliser to keep them in good condition throughout the summer. Protect them from late frosts by using horticultural fleece overnight;
· Continue dividing herbaceous perennials to improve their vigour and to create new plants;
· Hostas can be divided as they come into growth;
· Penstemons can be cut back to the base provided there is new growth at the bottom of the plant. If there are no new shoots showing, cut just above the lowest set of leaves;
· Early-flowering clematis can be pruned if they appear overcrowded after flowering;
· If you’ve planted out your sweet peas, encourage them to climb using sweet pea support rings. If the forecast shows low overnight temperatures they will need protecting with fleece;
· If you have permanent pot plants top-dress with fresh compost and feed with a liquid plant food every 2-4 weeks to promote healthy new growth;
· Keep checking your plants for pests and diseases, early prevention is better than trying to get rid of an infestation. Try not to use sprays – ‘finger and thumbing’ them is quite an effective way to control aphids;
· If you grow lilies, keep checking for the infamous scarlet lily beetle (they are in this part of Somerset!) and despatch them as you see fit.
· You will need to keep weeding your flower beds and borders as this is the growing time for them as well;
· Overcrowded clumps of daffodils and other spring bulbs can be lifted and divided now and then replanted.
IN THE VEGETABLE GARDEN……..
· Potatoes should be earthed up now to protect the growing shoots from any cold nights and possible late frosts;
· If you grow asparagus, the spears can be harvested now when they are no more than 18cm tall;
· Thin out any seedlings such as spinach, carrot and lettuce then water the rows well;
· Harden-off outdoor tomatoes, courgettes and squashes for planting early next month;
· Protect carrots from carrot fly by covering with horticultural fleece;
· Weed around your onions and garlic to reduce competition for nutrients and water;
· Make supports ready for your runner beans using 8ft bamboo canes;
· Use twiggy sticks or pea netting for your peas;
· Keep weeding!
IN THE FRUIT GARDEN…….
· Protect strawberry plants with straw to keep the fruit off the ground and to control weeds. If you don’t want to share your strawberries with the birds, cover with fine mesh netting;
· Harvest rhubarb picking only one third of the total amount of stems. If you’ve got new crowns, don’t pull any at all this year, allow them to become fully established first;
· Keep any young fruit trees well watered during dry spells whilst they are putting on new growth. If you do have new fruit trees remove the blossom and any forming fruits to help them establish during their first year;
· If you grow gooseberries check for gooseberry sawfly caterpillars as they will quickly strip the leaves if not removed;
· Erect garden netting or create a fruit cage to protect your fruit from hungry birds.
IN THE GREENHOUSE……
· Control the heat in your greenhouse with blinds or shade paint;
· The use of fly traps will help control whitefly and other pests.
LOOKING AFTER YOUR LAWN…….
· Feed your lawn with a high nitrogen fertiliser to encourage new growth;
· Water the grass during hot weather especially if newly seeded or turfed. Never allow new lawns to dry out in hot weather;
· Lower the blades on your lawnmower to their regular height;
· Continue sowing lawn seed to repair bare patches in the early part of this month;
· Delay mowing newly sown grass until it’s at least 3 inches in height and make sure the blades are on the highest setting;
· Install lawn edging to keep edges tidy.
OTHER JOBS AROUND THE GARDEN AND OUTSIDE AREAS……
· Feed pond fish little and often;
· Remove any duckweed and blanket weed from ponds and thin out submerged pond plants. Leave weed beside the pond overnight to allow insects and other pond life to return back to the water;
· Take time out from all your hard work to relax and enjoy your garden now that the warmer weather has arrived (hopefully!)