Welcome to the May edition of ‘growing tips’
May can be tricky month when growing crops. One minute it’s warm and dry with bubbly white clouds. The next it’s raining in biblical proportions. Temperatures jump around from day to day and night time temperatures can drop as low as freezing point…oh the joys of being a grower!
All you can do is keep a close eye on the local forecast and be ready to throw a fleece over young plants. Being prepared is key.
We have had some really nice days this month and this seems to have triggered the aphid population into life. I’ve noticed recently blackfly on autumn sown broad beans and greenfly on garden mint.
With the broad beans I will simply pinch out the soft growing tip where the blackfly congregates. They have reached to their optimum height and in doing so, this it won’t suppress their growth.
With the mint I shall water with a mild soap solution using a rose on a watering can. If not dealt with, aphids will start to weaken the plant, which in turn will make them susceptible to diseases. In addition aphid are carriers of many viruses which they freely transmit from plant to plant.
Weeds, if left unattended, will colonise an area and set seed for the next year. Regular hoeing helps to break the cycle and reduces the competition for light, water and nutrients.
Hairy bittercress will soon colonise bare ground.
Now is the time to sow pumpkin and courgette seeds. One seed per one three and half inch pot will suffice. Once germinated their rate of growth is rapid. Remember to place the seed on its edge to prevent it rotting. By the time they’re ready for planting out, all threats of frosts should have gone.
Salad leaves are a great supplement to any meal, therefore a regular supply is ideal. Different seed companies have their own mix but generally they consist of mizuna, salad rocket, red mustard, baby beetroot leaves, baby spinach and corn salad. Treat as ‘cut and come again’ and remove individual leaves as and when required. These can be grown on a light windowsill where they are easily accessible to harvest.
Climbing French beans, dwarf French beans and runner beans need to be sown this month. Direct sow into their final position, or if susceptible to mice or slugs, sow in pots in the greenhouse and plant out when large enough.
Runner bean seeds saved from last years crop
If you use a watering can try to get into the habit of filling it back up again for next time. Leave them in your greenhouse where the water will warm up. When you need to water again the water will be tepid and won’t shock young seedlings.
Watering can with a rose on the end of the spout
Now is the time to earth up those first early potatoes. I like to apply a granular feed beforehand, such a grow-more and then draw the soil up around the hulme. I know then that the fertiliser is getting to where the plant needs it.