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Gardening In May

1st of May 2011

The gardening year reaches a peak this month with two great flower shows, Chelsea
and Malvern – see last month’s Chipperfield News for details – long light evenings, two
bank holidays and hopefully an end to night time frosts.

Vegetables and fruit.
Now is the time to sow the rest of the beetroot, carrots, spinach,swede, turnips and sweet corn. Sow salads such as radish and lettuce in succession. Towards the end of the month plant out the runner beans, marrows, courgettes and aubergines that have been raised under glass. Keep a bit of horticultural fleece ready in case of a late frost. Plant the rest of the indoor tomatoes and cucumbers in growbags or large pots as soon as possible and plant the outdoor tomatoes and cucumbers at the end of May. Feed green vegetables with growmore and tomatoes with high potash feed such as tomorite. Watch out for pests and diseases. Hoe regularly and water as necessary. Spray strawberries against mildew and put up codlin moth traps in apple trees. Start to prune plum trees and water soft fruit as the fruit develops.

The flower garden.
Towards the end of May frosts are less likely and it should then be reasonably safe to plant bedding plants, such as busy lizzies, begonias, petunias, geraniums and fuchsias. The garden centre should be full of a host of plants for bedding and for hanging baskets and window boxes at this time of the year. Plant up containers and hanging baskets later in the month or right now if you have a greenhouse. Sow now in the garden clarkia, godetia, candytuft and nigella. Tubers of dahlias and cannas can be planted this month and gladioli corms and other summer flowering bulbs should be planted as soon as possible.

General tasks.
Start to trim hedges. Dead head daffodils after flowering and feed to build up the bulbs. Sow or turf new lawns and water well to get established but never water lawns once they are established. Mow grass regularly and feed if not already done Prune spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia. Spray roses regularly with something like roseclear and spray hollyhocks and campanulas against rust using a rose spray or fungicide. Container grown shrubs, roses, climbers and conifers plus herbaceous perennials and alpines can be planted. Make sure taller plants are well staked and put down mulches of garden compost or bark chips to keep down weeds and help to conserve moisture.

Open Gardens in May include The Abbots House, Abbots Langley, and Patchwork, Hall Park Gate, Berkhamstead on 1 May; 9 Tansfield Drive, Hemel Hempstead, on 8 May; 19 Lancaster Road, St Albans, on 15 May and Great Sarratt Hall on 29 May.
Terry Simmonds

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