At long last May is here! Days are longer, temperatures are higher (hopefully) and if we all keep our fingers crossed it might just start to feel like summer in the next few weeks. This is the month when I’ll begin sowing and planting outdoors in earnest, but still keeping an eye on the weather as the risk of frost hasn’t completely passed yet.
My top five tasks for May will be:
- To start sowing outdoors if the weather turns mild (we had snow less than a week ago), and to continue sowing indoors if the weather stays too cold.
- To begin hardening off all the seedlings that have had a coddled start to life to make sure that they are tough enough when the time comes for them to be let out in the big wide allotment world.
- To plant the last of the seed potatoes. This will be my main-crop variety Golden Wonder, which is meant to be especially good for roasting (yum!)
- To keep a close eye on the weather and to protect tender young plants from any late frosts.
- To weed, weed and weed some more. The couch grass, which seemed to be under control at the end of last year, is reappearing with a vengeance. Mainly at the edge of paths. There is anti-weed matting under the paths but I think it might have bio-degraded sufficiently as to let the grass roots take hold. I really don’t want to have to lift all the paths but it looks like it might be necessary in order to get the upper hand on the situation.
Other tasks on the list this month:
- Harvest and clear the last of the Swiss Chard ready for the potatoes going in that bed.
- Create new supports in order to tie the raspberries in. The old supports are too short and slack so we’ve got canes going everywhere at the moment.
- Pot on growing plants as they outgrow their current pots.
- Thin out seedlings, especially the salad crops outside the back door.
- Earth up my potatoes. If exposed to the sun tubers will turn green and poisonous.
Seeds to be sown indoors:
- Brussels Sprouts and Flower Sprouts – This month might be the last chance to get them sown if I want them ready for Christmas dinner (which I do).
- French Beans (Borlotti Beans-Lingua De Fuoco) – I’ll be sowing these in root trainers and transplanting out in June/July.
- Kale (Nero di Toscana) – I love kale and I’ve heard that our slimy friends the slugs also share my passion. I’ll be bringing my kale on indoors and hopefully they’ll be big enough not to be too troubled by the time they get planted out.
- Runner Beans (Scarlet Empire) – I’ll be sowing these in root trainers and transplanting out in June/July.
- Sprouting Broccoli (Purple Sprouting -Redhead) – I’m getting these planted now due to their long growing season. Nothing teaches you about delayed gratification quite like putting something in the ground in May and knowing you won’t be able to eat it for nearly a year.
Vegetable to be sown directly outside
- Carrots – I’m planting one row of Chanterey Red Cored 2 at the beginning of the month and then another row either in last week of May or the First week of June to try and create some succession. Then Autumn King 2 variety will be going in later in the year.
- Peas – I did want to sow these indoors but the year has run away from me so we’re just going to have to see how they do in the ground.
- Radishes – I already have a little row of radishes outside the back door but they’re not coming on very well, I just don’t think our yard gets enough sunlight, so more will be going in up at the allotment for good measure.
- Spinach – Spinach is one of my all time favourite veg and I quite often go through phases where I eat it everyday in some form or other. As such quite a large area has been given over to growing spinach and I’m going to try and keep a harvestable amount available for most of the year.
- Swede – So ugly yet so tasty. A row of swede will be going in this month. I’ve read that they store quite well so I’m not going to worry too much about having a glut later in the year.
- Turnips – If possible I want to try and get at least two harvests of turnip this year. So some will be going in now for harvest in mid to late summer and another batch will replace them for harvest in the autumn.
Vegetables to plant out in May
- Aubergines, Cucumbers, Cucamelons & Tomatoes – “Plant out” for these three really means to go into grow bags in the greenhouse, which doesn’t actually exist yet but I’m working on it.
- Cabbages – So I have a summer variety called Elisa F1 and a summer/autumn red variety called Red Jewel F1 which are pretty much ready to go out. I’m just waiting for some brassica collars to be delivered and we’re good to go.
- Brussels Sprouts – I only sowed these this weekend and there’s no sign of germination yet. Fingers crossed they once they’re up they’ll grow fast and I’ll be able to get them out in the last week of the month, if not you’ll be seeing this task on the June to-do list.
- Potatoes – Maincrop Golden Wonder is still to go out, hopefully as soon as I finish writing this.