The Gardener’s Diary
After a very cold and dry April, I think we were all hoping that May would be much better, but so far, it’s been wet and cold and not good gardening weather at all. Everything is so far behind, but when the weather does eventually warm up, now that the soil is moist, plants and seedlings should start to romp away and try and catch up.
Spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia, spiraea and flowering currant that have finished flowering can be lightly pruned to remove some of the older wood and shoots that flowered to help maintain shape and size.
If your hydrangeas have been damaged by the frosts in April, don’t panic. Leave the plants alone and wait for new growth to develop before you trim back any dead shoots. The frizzled leaves will fall off and new will grow.
Keep sowing vegetables such as carrots, lettuce, beetroot and parsnips, spinach directly into the garden in shallow drills.
Now is a good time to start planting summer containers and hanging baskets with a selection of summer plants. Remember though that these plants are tender and need protecting from late frosts.
Rose bushes can be given a feed to boost the growth and encourage plenty of flowers. Also keep an eye open for blackspot and other diseases.
There is still plenty of time to sow runner beans, courgettes, French beans, squashes and sweet corn into small pots or cell trays to start them into growth. A cold greenhouse is ideal and will give them a head start. If you intend to sow straight into the garden, by mid-May it should be warm enough outside.
As potatoes grow, earth up soil around the stems to form ridges and if the soil is dry give them a water to help the tubers swell. Potatoes growing in pots need regular watering and feeding to help the tubers develop.
Now that we’ve had a good dollop of rain, lawns can be fed with a lawn fertiliser to promote healthy growth and to help green them up. Always follow the instructions and should it turn dry, you may need to water the feed into the lawn.
Continue to deadhead and feed spring flowering bulbs after they have flowered to help build up the bulbs for next year.
Don’t be tempted to plant out tender bedding plants and vegetables such as tomatoes or courgettes into the ground until the end of the month, or when the danger of frost has passed. Once planted out, have some fleece on standby should a late frost be forecast. ht.
Keep on top of weeds in beds and borders by hoeing through the surface of the soil on dry days to chop off seedling weeds.
Martin Fish. www.martinfish.com