THE VEGETABLE GARDEN IN MAY

May is one of the busiest months in the kitchen garden. The soil is warm and everything should be growing well. Unfortunately the weeds are growing well too so there is no time to relax. Do watch out for a late frost, many growers have been caught out and lost their recently planted beans etc. Keep that fleece handy just in case.



There is no such thing as an absolute set date for a job in gardening, for a start temperatures vary according to where you are in the country.  Next, each year is different; some warmer and some colder although the trend is toward warmer the exception proves the rule.

Harvest

Depending where you are and what you planted, you may have some salad crops ready. Hardy lettuce and spring onions, fast growing radish may well be available. If you tried potatoes undercover, you may well be getting the odd meal from these.

Winter cauliflowers, spring cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale should be ready now.

The luxury crop asparagus may be starting for you as well this month.

Sowing, Planting & Cultivating

Cultivation

There are two main cultivation jobs you need to keep on top of in May. First, the weeds are growing. Hoeing them off as small seedlings will make the job far easier than waiting for them to grow and send their roots down. Hoeing is best done on a dry day so that the weeds do not have a chance to recover. Don't forget to sharpen your hoe before you start and frequently as you use it.

The other cultivation job outdoors is to thin out. We sow our carrots and parsnips and it seems a shame to remove seedlings we were so happy to see appear but it needs to be done.

Sowing

There is a lot to sow this month and with many crops you can sow one set and then a few weeks later re-sow to give you a succession of fresh vegetables at the peak of perfection. If it is a dry May, it is a good idea to soak your seed drill before sowing and then just water with a fine rose after.

French Beans

Runner Beans

Beetroot

Broccoli and Calabrese

Cabbage and Cauliflowers

Chicory

Kale

Kohlrabi

Peas

Turnips and Swedes

Your salad crops should be sown in succession

Lettuce and Leaves such as Rocket

Radishes

Spring Onions

Vegetable Garden

•Pull newly sprouted weeds from garden being certain to get the entire root.

•Sow the last of the warm-season crops such as bean, corn, cucumber,  pea, pepper, squash,  and tomato.

•Thin seedlings and take cuttings from spring greens and other cold-season crops. In very hot climates, this is possibly the final harvest from these vegetables for the early season.

•Fertilize all new seedlings. Mulch newly sprouted plants.

•Check plants for signs of beetles, grasshoppers, spider mites,  and other pests.

•Check tomato plants for pests and disease such as blossom end rot.

•Mulch all plants with 3 – 4 inches of a healthy compost mix.

•Cultivate, feed and divide (if needed) perennial vegetables.

•Water all plants well and again when plants appear to be wilting throughout the month. It is very important that plants receive plenty of water during the month of May so they will have a good start. Roots will dry out quickly and should be checked often.

Herb Garden

•Cultivate new beds and mulch well to deter weeds later in the season.

•Make succession plantings of short-lived herbs to extend harvest period.

•Plant basil, mint, tarragon and any other warm-weather herbs desired.

•Sow or transplant perennial/hardy herbs such as; chives, fennel, lovage, marjoram, thyme. Perennial herbs may be divided this month if desired.

•Seedlings should be watered well throughout the month as they will put on a lot of new growth in May. In areas where the summer heat begins early, roots will dry out very quickly this month.

Fruit Garden

•Cut away any suckers from lower trunks of trees and bushes.

•Pick off and destroy caterpillars and other pests from trees and bushes.

•Spread 4 – 5 inches of healthy compost mulch around trunks of trees and bushes.

•Mulch strawberry plants with straw for a clean bed which keeps fruits from laying on the soil. Strawberry plants should be producing well in May and should be covered with netting to prevent birds from eating fruits.


•Spider mites  can be a problem in May. Check leaves for signs of these pests. A daily spray from the water hose will wash these pests away.

•Check plants often for signs of black sooty mold caused by insects such as whiteflies and aphids.

Slugs and snails continue their assault in the garden this month. It is a good idea to treat the soil for slugs before planting and to keep a close watch throughout the season for any and all other pests. This is as simple as walking through the garden every day or two and physically checking the plants for infestation.