Even if you only grow a few vegetables on a small plot you will be surprised at the tremendous pace of growth during the month of May. Everything begins to grow up at once and you will soon find things getting out of hand if you don’t keep on top of them. So, before you venture out, take stock and use this quick reminder of some of the vital jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden during the month of May.
In the greenhouse, pinch out shoots on grapevines. Tomato plants will be putting on a growth spur so make sure you tie in plants to cane supports to stop them flopping over. Take softwood cuttings of herb plants and pot them up in modules. Seedlings raised in the greenhouse such as courgettes, marrows and tomatoes can now be planted outside.
Continue to earth up potatoes and if there is still a risk of frost at the beginning of the month, cover with fleece or newspaper to protect the emerging shoots. It’s not only the vegetable plants that are putting on growth at this time, weeds will also appearing all over the vegetable garden. Make sure you keep on top of them by regularly hoeing around existing vegetable plants.
If you haven’t already sown runner beans inside, now is the time to sow them outdoors, making sure you have erected supports made from tall canes or hazel beforehand. Also sow seeds of dwarf and climbing beans in rows alongside supporting canes. Other crops that can be sown directly into the ground at this time are beetroot, basil, spring onions, carrots, parsnip and radish.
If you grow fruit, make sure you check fruit trees for signs of disease such as powdery mildew and treat with a fungicide. Pests such as aphids can be treated with soapy water. Thin out fruit on peach and nectarine trees so that each fruit is around 10cm apart. Make sure any soft fruit bushes are covered with netting to prevent hungry bird eating the crop. Do the same with strawberry plants.
Carry on successional planting of salad crops such as lettuce, rocket and radish to ensure you have a plentiful supply all through the summer. Towards the end of the month, thin out the seedlings from earlier vegetable sowings to their correct spacings. Finally, sow seeds of herbs such as coriander, parsley and basil into garden planters to be positioned near to the kitchen so they are easily accessible.