May: Miles Ferrante

May growing tips

May, usually the time of the year the days are longer, lighter and warmer.  It’s the month we begin sowing and planting outdoors in earnest, and we head up to our allotments with our hands full of seed packets ready to sow, and plants ready to plant.  The new inexperienced gardener can be caught out with late frosts, but the seasoned gardener will wait until the first week in June to plant out tender vegetables.  As I write this though its pouring with rain, cold and gloomy, but I’m still going to head to my plot on St Marys to see if there is any jobs that need doing.

Sow:

  • Beetroot – (in modules, makes it much easier to plant out)
  • Broad beans (direct or in modules)
  • Broccoli – (purple sprouting) Claret and Rudolph are good varieties.
  • Carrots – (try yellow and purple carrots) Yellowstone works in all types of soil.
  • Chard – bright lights
  • Courgettes – Defender and Pathenon are the best varieties.
  • Cucumbers – Try Burpless Tasty, grow on a mound or ridge to aid drainage.
  • French beans – I grow a climbing heritage variety called Bob and Mary and a modern dwarf variety called Ferrari.
  • Kale
  • Leeks – Mussleborough seeds available in the shop.
  • Lettuce – grow something different like Nyman’s, Amaze, Red Iceberg. Sow little and often to avoid a glut.
  • Melons (need to be inside a greenhouse or cold frame really)
  • Parsnips – try tender and true, hollow crown, gladiator.
  • Peas – still for sale in the shop.
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Rocket – goes great with salad.
  • Runner Beans – a must for the allotment, we have some for sale in the shop.
  • Spinach – perpetual is the best variety.
  • Squashes
  • Swedes – grow in modules and transplant when bigger to avoid flea beetle.
  • Sweetcorn – It’s so important to grow the right variety in all vegetables, especially sweetcorn, it’s the difference between success and failure. Swift always works for me.
  • Turnips

Plant:

  • Summer cabbages, broad beans, artichokes,
  • Leeks when pencil thick,
  • Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce. Granular fertilizers such as fish, blood and bone, Growmore, Vitax Q4, potato fertilizer all available in the shop.
  • Onions – if you haven’t planted them with a granular slow release fertilizer you will need to feed them occasionally.
  • Tomatoes– plant in an unheated greenhouse in may. I actually planted mine this year in the middle of April and so far so good.
  • Potatoes – earth up as they grow.
  • Peppers – Pinch out when they are about 12” tall to encourage lots of branches.  Feed every 2 weeks with liquid fertilizer (Organic and non-organic available in the shop)

Fruit:

  • Apples – Codling moth pheromone traps should be put up the middle of May.
  • Plums – Plum moth pheromone traps should be put up the beginning of May.  I started using these traps 3 years ago on my plot as every plum I tried to eat had a maggot inside, but last year was the best ever so far, less than 10% were infected.
  • Feed all fruit trees, bushes, with fish, blood and bone and mulch underneath with manure.
  • Blackberries – tie in new shoots.

 Pests and diseases:

  • Spray any fruit trees if infested with aphids or caterpillars after petal fall with organic sprays, use these at night when the bees are in bed.
  • Brassicas – cover or the pigeons will have a picnic.
  • Gooseberries – check for pests.
  • Slugs – There are organic slug pellets available in the shop to help guard against damage, the slugs are very hungry this time of year.
  • Leeks – there is now a pheromone trap that can be used for the leek moth, but if you have experienced damage to your leeks at St Marys it will be the allium leaf minor. The only protection against this pest is to net them with enviromesh.

Other jobs:

  • Harden off plants before planting out or they will go into shock and it will take a couple of weeks before they start growing again.
  • Strawberries, put straw, cardboard or polythene under plants to keep them off the soil.
  • Feed plants: (Brassicas = poultry manure), (Onions and other root vegetables = Vitax Q4), (fruit = Bonemeal), (tomatoes = Tomorite), (Potatoes = potato fertilizer), (all other veg = fish, blood and bone or Growmore). All available in the shop.
  • Use pheromone traps in apple and plum trees to stop codling and plum moth maggots ruining fruit.

Finally, I was reading a book earlier printed in 1936 which states you should lightly dust your Cabbages with DDT! I wonder if the author lived past 40? (we do not sell this in the shop by the way).

References:
Your garden week by week – AGL Hellyer
Dig for victory – Mr Middleton
Geoff Hamilton’s – Radio Times gardening year
Allotment month by month – Alan Buckingham
Allotment and garden guide – Twigs way
Sarah Ravens website
Alan Titchmarsh – The Allotment Gardeners Handbook
Charles Dowdings vegetable garden diary