What to do now
Gardening in May is a busy time for flower and vegetable growers. With summer on its way, now is the perfect time to tidy up spring flowering plants, perennials and plant out summer bedding plants.
The longer warmer days provide the ideal opportunity to get out into the garden and prepare beds and borders for summer planting, bring out seedlings to harden off ready for planting out and doing those maintenance odd jobs you have been planning to do all winter.
- Mow lawns weekly.
- Apply a high nitrogen lawn fertiliser.
- Water lawns in the morning or evening on hot days.
- Continue to sow lawn seed and repair bare patches.
- Remove weeds taking root in the lawn.
For a strong healthy lawn, it is important to keep mowing the grass regularly. Keeping the grass at a healthy height, applying a high nitrogen fertiliser and repairing bare patches will help to keep the weeds at bay. Aerate the lawn to allow water to flow freely through the soil. This will help prevent moss on lawns forming. For new lawns and seeded patches, it is essential to keep the ground moist with frequent watering.
Beds and borders
- Plant out summer bedding plants.
- Sow winter bedding plants.
- Tidy up and deadhead perennials to encourage new growth.
- Put in supports for herbaceous and trailing plants.
- Lift and divide spring flowering bulbs.
- Start hardening off bedding plants, bringing them inside at night.
- Take cuttings of tender perennials.
- Feed and water container plants and hanging baskets.
Gardening in May is all about preparing the beds and borders for planting out bedding plants. Give plants in the greenhouse more ventilation by opening windows or put them outside during the day, bringing them back in at night to prepare tender young plants for outside temperatures. Lift out spring bulbs and store them in a dry place ready to be planted back out in the autumn. Check roses for black spot, rust and powdery mildew. At the first sign of disease, remove and dispose of the damaged leaves and spray the plant with an organic fungicide.
- Earth up potatoes.
- Harvest asparagus.
- Harden off vegetable seedlings.
- Thin out spinach, lettuce, carrots and radish.
- Put in supports for beans and peas.
- Protect strawberries with a layer of straw.
- Harvest rhubarb.
- Check gooseberry bushes for sawfly caterpillars.
May is a busy time in the vegetable garden with spring cabbages, lettuces and radishes ready to be harvested. Spinach, carrots and onions to give the plants plenty of room to grow and flourish. Put in supporting structures for beans and peas to grow up against.
Continue to sow salad seeds to further crop production while gardening in May. Sweet corn, courgettes, pumpkins and squashes can be sown outside now. Autumn and winter vegetables such as beetroot, cauliflower, parsnips and brassicas can also be planted outside in nursery rows now.
Weeds and pests
- Keep on top of weeds with a hoe.
- Remove blanket weed from ponds.
- Check plants regularly for caterpillars, spider mites and fungal diseases.
Keep providing garden birds with a fresh source of water through the hot months ahead. Growing sunflowers in the garden will provide a food supply for bees, butterflies and garden birds. Planting evergreens and native hedgerows now will give the local wildlife a place to shelter in the winter while also providing a natural food source. If you have space in your garden to grow a wildlife garden, planting wildflowers and garden herbs will support beneficial insects, birds and small mammals. If space is limited, hanging baskets, window boxes and containers can still provide wildlife with a natural corridor to travel from countryside to urban areas.