“Spring: The music of open windows.”
~ Terri Guillemets
The cheerful vibrancy of yellow daffodils has given way to the softer white, pink and lilac colours of tree blossom and of course the wonderful green of fresh new leaves. Spring has well and truly sprung. Although many days are beginning to start with sunshine, don’t put away your warm clothing and don’t put your plants out just yet until the last danger of frost has gone. This does of course depend on whereabouts in the country you live but even down here, in Devon, May can still deliver some pretty cold nights.
May is a busy month, and not only on the plot! We’re currently in the grip of National Gardening Week 2021, and we’re celebrating with some fantastic offers on veg, flowers, equipment and more. There’s never been a better time to roll your sleeves up and get growing, and if you’re already a seasoned grower you can mark the event with savings on everything from grafted veg to fabulous foliage!
We have specially created a blog packed full of gardening activities to commence through the week of 26th April – 2nd May! But does gardening really need to be confined to one week? absolutely not!
RHS Chelsea is a truly unique, unforgettable experience and a key date in every avid gardener’s calendar. 17th – 21st May is the date to save for this year’s 2021 Virtual Chelsea while the show has been postponed until September! What you can expect from a virtual show this month is breath-taking videos, top garden tips, and exclusive insights into celebrity gardens and those we all wish to see!
The “hungry gap” has now ended and May sees food once again being available, fresh from the garden. We are in full swing of growing plentiful amounts of delicious veg and plot to plate is once again a common occurrence! One particular veg ready to harvest this month is asparagus! Asparagus tips make a healthy alternative to toasted soldiers for dipping in soft boiled eggs and poached eggs but are also delicious roasted. Simply snap off the tough end of the stalk and place the tip on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and chopped thyme or mint. Then roast in a hot oven for about 5 minutes until lightly charred. Gorgeous. Happy asparagus harvesting this month!
As the weather brightens up there are a few odd jobs in the garden to be doing or on the plot. Here’s a list of 10 jobs to get busy on the plot this month:
- Veg plants raised indoors can be gradually hardened off, ready for planting out.
- Keep earthing up those potatoes. As the shoots show just gently hoe some soil over them to act as a dark blanket, protecting the tubers from frost.
- Remember that your plants need bees and try to include as many pollinating plants as possible
- Weed, weed, weed. The weed again! Getting on top of the weeds now will be a great help come summer.
- Vine weevil is your major enemy this month so prepare to spend your evenings outside, picking them off by hand.
- Onions and garlic planted last autumn will start to swell now so keep them weed-free and well-watered
- Deadhead tulips and give both them and any daffodils a feed.
- New lawns can be sown or turfed this month but do remember to frequently water.
- Those tender plants that you’ve kept under glass over-winter can now be hardened off and then moved outside but do take it slowly! Citrus trees, olives, fuchsias, etc will all need to be gradually acclimatised and toughened up.
- Once they’ve finished flowering prune your spring-flowering shrubs, such as Forsythia, Ribes and Spiraea. This will help maintain a nice shape and will encourage flowering for next year.
Want to know more? Check out our May on the Allotment blog for more tips and tricks on the plot!
May Flowers to Sow
By May the earth is getting warm enough to sow many types of flower seeds straight into the garden, including old cottage favourites like primrose, cornflowers, calendula and sweet William. The easiest of all is nasturtium seeds that just need nudging into the soil.
A masterpiece among anemones! The shade-tolerant plants produce large flowers with sturdy stems that don’t need staking.
Height 25-46cm (10-18”).
The nearest to white calendula you can find – when fully opened, blooms are almost white, with either a dark or yellow centre. And it’s frost hardy, blooming for months on end!
Easy to grow, calendulas will attract a multitude of beneficial insects to your garden!
Flowers June-September; May-July the following year. Height 40-50cm (16-20”). HA – Hardy annual.
Beautiful, highly fragrant blooms to brighten up those drab winter months!
The flowers, in a wide range of colours are a good choice for making use of a cool conservatory or greenhouse during the winter months.
Excellent, fragrant cut flowers for the house.
Height 45cm (18″). HHP – Half hardy perennial.
New Flower Seed
The Lavender Seeds – Lady is a magnificent first-year flowering perennial that produces outstanding flowers. Typical of lavender, the flowers produced have a very strong and iconic fragrance. The compact nature of this dwarf variety means that it does not sprawl or split, making it ideal for filling flower beds and flower borders or used as edging along a path.
Grow these amazing flowers in containers and patio pots to enjoy the luscious scent of these flowers all over your garden. The great thing about this lavender is that the flowers can be added to sugar to flavour it and used to bake cakes. No wonder this variety was the winner of the AAS award! Growing to a height of 41–50cm (16–20″); spread 41–50cm (16–20″), a truly perfect flower.
May Veg to Sow
Summer months are on the horizon and sunnier days and lighter evenings are emerging. The past two months have been a roller-coaster of ride weather wise and the allotment garden hasn’t known if it’s been coming or going. However, there are still nearly 300 varieties available to sow in May, so it’s time to get our hands dirty and get busy on the veg patch.
A much-admired Italian kale, whose leaves darken to dark green, almost black as the cooler temperatures of autumn arrive.
Boil, steam or stir-fry, picking the leaves as required. Harvest September-January.
Crops 30-35 weeks from sowing. A delicious autumn, winter, spring vegetable. Sow 18mm (¾”) deep on a finely raked ‘seedbed’.
Between 600 and 1,000 fruits per plant under ideal growing conditions!
The first ‘pear-shaped’ fruited variety in this delicious series. 2.54cm (1″) long fruits of yellow with purple shoulders.
The purple colour is due to high anthocyanin content – so important for our daily health.
British bred, this attractive ‘tennis ball’ size, round, green striped courgette produces abundant crops of sweetly flavoured courgettes on compact, spine-free plants which can be container or soil grown.
Don’t worry if some get too large, Piccolo makes a super ‘mini-marrow!’.
Plant 60cm (2′) apart. For maximum production of courgettes it is essential that all fruits of a culinary size are removed three times a week whether required or not. Sow late March-mid May, either in 7cm (3”) pots indoors for early sowings or direct outdoors for later crops. Harvest July-September.
New Veg Seed
The Shallot – Simiane is a great variety with classic ‘banana’ shaped bulbs making them easier to slice. The flesh of these shallots are pink with decorative internal rings.
With a milder and less harsh taste than typical onions the Shallot – Simiane has a sweeter flavour.
Classic ‘banana’ shaped bulbs that are easier to slice. Sweet flesh with pink internal rings. Can be used young as a pink ‘bunching’ or spring onion, or left to mature into ‘torpedo’ shaped bulbs. Delicious in salads or sandwiches, even soups. Milder and less harsh than using onions.
Harvest September–October. Height 31–40cm (12–16″); spread 11–20cm (4–8″).
May Veg to Plant
Offers This Month
Social Posts of the Month #dobiesgardening
We like to share with the Dobies community what everyone has been up to each month on the plot. This month, it looks like things are starting to sprout but we are also patiently waiting for blooms to say ‘hello’, interesting cauliflowers are being harvested and Mexican herbs are in full swing!
Below are our top 5 social posts of the previous month and if you would like the chance to be featured in next month’s newsletter, all you need to do is tag us and use the hashtag #dobiesgardening.
Follow us on our social media pages and tag us in your posts and you could be featured on our next monthly newsletter!
So, in celebration of National Gardening Week 2021, we’re pondering some of the ways in which gardening and time outdoors can help our bodies and minds, as well as giving your plenty of activities to keep you busy in the garden!
Build A Wildlife Log Shelter
Putting together a pile of logs in your garden will not only attract wildlife and give them a place to stay, but they are easy to build and can be tucked away in ‘unseen’ patches of the garden or plot. In turn, your community of wildlife will attract more birds, hedgehogs and frogs to your garden too!
Step one: Collect your logs. If you don’t already have some, try and haggle some from a local tree surgeon or firewood dealer. Native wood does the best job, but any wood is better than no wood!
Step Two: Some call it a ‘minibest village’ but you can build up your logs in a variety of ways. Why not go for a scattered look under a hedge or around a flower border. Or a neat a tidy pile like the image depicts. A stack could be tidy and tall or a bit higgledy piggledy.
Step Three: There isn’t really a step three because building a log pile is as easy as that! What you can do is keep any eye for what lives in there, like woodlice, beetles, centipedes and more!
Read our blog on National Gardening Week 2021 for more garden activities, hints and tips for the plot, and common garden mistakes when growing veg (but how to fix them!).
Starting in 1913 at London’s Royal Hospital, Chelsea, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most recognisable horti events in the country. The Chelsea Flower Show is a showcase of all that’s new and exciting in the industry, and hosts awards such as RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year & RHS Chelsea Product of the Year.
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About the RHS Chelsea Flower Show
- Royal Horticultural Society which was founded in 1804!
- Back in 1932, the show didn’t fall on a sunny day, and the rain was so severe that a summer house display collapsed into pieces. A very wet year, and a very wet event had one exhibitor name it ‘The Chelsea Shower Flow’!
- You can park up to 500 London buses in the Great Pavilion.
- The show has taken place in London every year since 1913, apart from year during the two World Wars and 2020.
- For the first time in Chelsea’s 108-year history, the renown flower show on earth will be held in autumn (September!).
British Garden Wildlife to Look Out for In May
As spring is in full swing and summer months are on the horizon, this is the time of year when our garden wildlife comes to life and starts emerging from hidden nooks and crannies of our sheds, fences and that stone by the pond you dare overturn! There’s quite a lot of British garden wildlife to look out for in May, from migrant birds to frog spawn and blue butterflies!
The more common garden birds like those which nest are going to be frequently visiting our gardens if we continue to feed them! If you provide bird food or mealworms in your garden, these will be snatched up by the likes of blackbirds, house sparrows, robins, and most species of tit and starling. If you live near woodland or have your own wooded land, keep an eye out for flycatchers that emerge in May and disappear in September. They tend to rest in trees and fly upwards to catch insects in flight. If you have fruit trees in your garden, don’t be surprised if you see a bullfinch pinching some fruit buds!
In regards to migrant birds, chiffchaffs make there way in late March and are in full singing mode by May. Sand martins can be seen by rivers and other water bodies, and wheatears will be in full breeding season. Swallows, swifts and cuckoos can also make an appearance in April and May.
Other Garden Wildlife
There are some seasonal garden insects to look out for like the common blue butterfly that goes through a cycle where common blue caterpillars hibernate and pupate in April and May giving rise to adults in May and June. Large red damselfly can be seen pinching smaller insects from vegetation but is a truly stunning red dragonfly. Dare we say it but the garden spider is a frequent visitor at this time of year, they vary in colour from pale yellowy-brown to very dark brown, but they all have a characteristic white cross-shaped group of spots on their abdomen.
Don’t fret our wonderful honey bees if you are out in the garden, they are just on a journey to make honey and are likely to live in a large bee colony, such as in the wild honey bees nest in hollow trees.
If you have a pond, you might notice frogspawn through spring. For frogs and toads this is their mating season and both species lay their spawn in water. If you don’t have a pond, there is a chance they still visit your garden later in the summer on the hunt for a cool damp place to escape from the heat and put their feet up!
How to Attract More Wildlife to Your Garden
- Choose pollen and nectar-rich flowers for bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects.
- Install a pond for water mammals and insects. It doesn’t have to be big!
- Build a wildlife log shelter and go wild for insects!
- Leave a patch of grass to grow, this will become a home for bugs.
- Supply birds with food and a bird bath.
- A compost heap provides shelter for creatures like the slow worm and grass snake.
- Don’t be too tidy in the garden for the likes of ladybirds and hibernating reptiles/amphibians.
- Build your own bee hotel or other habitats!
This month should be a busy one and there’s plenty to be done on the plot. If you have enjoyed reading, please come back next month and check out our June newsletter next month. Remember to share any of your growing antics with us this May on our social media pages!
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