A helpful guide to vegetable garden and allotment jobs in May.
If you’re relatively new to gardening then it can be helpful to have a clear idea of what needs doing in the garden every month…so here’s our to do list for May…
With the soil warming up nicely May is a good month to get some more seeds in the ground.
Although most of your hardy vegetables will have already been sown you can still make successive sowings of some for a continuous supply.
Beetroots, late peas, carrots, spring onions, spinach, swedes and turnips can all be sown directly in the ground…there are loads of tasty vegetables that can be sown now.
You can also sow cabbages and cauliflowers for Autumn, Winter and Spring either in pots or trays or in a seedbed outside.
Frost sensitive crops should still be sown under glass if it’s cold.
French beans, cucumbers, courgettes, marrows, pumpkins, squash and sweetcorn are all fast growing so sow seeds when date of last frost is no more than 6 weeks away.
Read ‘What seeds can be sown in May‘ for a full list.
Some seeds that have already been sowed may now need thinning out.
Thinning out allows plants enough room to grow properly.
Remember that many thinnings are also edible. For example, beetroot leaves are lovely in salad as are baby lettuce leaves.
When seeds have been planted in pots or trays indoors or under cover they need to be ‘hardened off’ before planting outside.
This process gives them a chance to acclimatize to lower temperatures slowly so that they don’t suffer as a result of the sudden shock.
As the weather improves, move them outside during the day and back indoors at night for around 2 weeks. If they are in coldframes just open the lid during the day.
Brussel sprouts, summer calabrese, cauliflowers and cabbages will all benefit from early planting out.
Check our vegetable planting in May guide to see what’s ready to be hardened off and planted out.
Tender plants like peppers and tomatoes can be planted out in a greenhouse or polytunnel now.
There is still time to sow seeds that should have been sown earlier. Whether you forgot or they got eaten it’s well worth another try.
Seedlings will inevitably catch up with earlier sown seeds because the weather is more favourable.
This time if year, the weather can be even more erratic than usual so keep an eye on forecasts.
Water your seedlings well and often and don’t let seeds or new plants dry out as their roots aren’t yet established. Takeba look at these watering tips.
Weeds will compete with our vegetables for space, nutrients and water so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of regular weeding.
Hoe between roes and plants once a week when weeds are small and give up the fight more easily.
Choose a sunny day so the weeds dry up on the surface of the soil.
Put mulch down wherever possible to prevent weeds from growing at all…you can use well-rotted wood chip, straw or grass clippings.
Read our top 10 weeding tips here.
When the weather is forecast to drop below 4 degrees Celsius then it’s time to cover tender crops.
We use an insulated picnic blanket to protect our coldframe on particularly cold nights too.
You can use fleece, tunnels, bottles or straw to protect plants.
Some of your seedlings will be looking rather crammed in their pots by now and may need potting on if they aren’t ready to go outside yet.
Re-pot them into larger containers so that they can continue to thrive.
Larger plants that go outside later will benefit particularly from this e.g. courgettes, pumpkins, squash, tomatoes.
Peas and broad beans will need supports to grow so they don’t get tangled on the ground.
You can use hazel or birch sticks or buy canes or chicken wire.
We earth-up potatoes by covering the shoots (often with soil) to prevent the sunshine from reaching the potatoes and turning them green (green potatoes are actually toxic).
Regularly draw up the soil around the plants (every 2 or 3 weeks) to encourage a good crop of healthy potatoes. You don’t have to completely cover shoots once the risk of frost has past.
Take a look at our full guide to gardening in May – it includes sowing and planting advice.
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