May’s jobs in the garden
The gardener’s diary with Martin Fish
If you are planting out vegetable plants or shrubs and perennials into the garden, make sure they are well watered in, especially if the soil is dry.
Don’t plant bedding plants or put hanging baskets out until the danger of frost has passed.
Sweet pea plants can be planted out where you want them to flower. They are greedy plants and will benefit from a feed of general fertiliser to get them established. They will also need watering until established.
As bulbs finish flowering, pick off the dead heads and allow the foliage to die down naturally. If growing in pots, I give a weekly liquid feed to build up the bulbs for next year.
Spring flowering shrubs such as forsythia, spiraea and ribes that have now finished flowering can be lightly pruned, to maintain their shape and size. Start by removing any dead wood, thin out some of the oldest branches and shorten long growth. All you need is a light prune and that way it will keep the shrub in good condition, and you’ll get plenty of flower next spring.
Tall growing perennials can be given some support before they get too tall and start to lean over. Use twiggy sticks, wire or plastic frames or three canes pushed in around the plant with loops of string around.
Primroses and the old-fashioned polyanthus can be divided once they have finished flowering. Lift the old clump, remove dead flowers and divide into smaller sections. Trim back the foliage, replant and give them a drink of water to settle them in. They will soon start to grow and make a strong plant.
Tomato plants can be planted into a cold greenhouse or polytunnel into prepared soil or large pots. Any plants intended for outside growing should be kept frost free until the end of the month.
Sow runner beans, dwarf beans and courgettes in small pots or cell trays to grow on in a greenhouse or cool windowsill ready for planting out at the end of the month.
Make sure that the new shoots on potatoes are protected from any late frosts. Either draw soil up over them or cover with some garden fleece.
Start planting out cabbages and other brassicas and to help the plants establish, make sure the roots are firmed in well and the plants protected from hungry pigeons.
Water and feed clumps of rhubarb to keep them actively growing and producing new sticks.
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