The Vegetable Growing Year: Jobs to do in May

May can be one of the busiest months of the year for a gardener. The soil is warming up and things should be growing quite well now. However it is worth keeping an eye on the weather, late frosts are not unknown and catch people out. If a frost is forecast, cover young and vulnerable plants with a fleece.

Weeding
Your plants will be loving the warmer weather and so will the weeds. Keep your hoe moving to kill off the weeds.

Support and pinch out Tomatoes
Once you’ve planted your tomatoes into their final position, they will take off and grow quite quickly. Tie the main stems to their canes to stop them from falling over. Also if you’re growing a cordon variety, remove any sideshoots that appear between the main stem and the leaves branch.

What to sow and plant
Here’s a few things you can sow in May:

  • Courgettes, squash, marrows and pumpkins can be sown under cover, ready to go out at the end of the month (or after your last frosts). Sow them in small pots or modules and water lightly to prevent damping off.
  • Continue sowing salad leaves, lettuce, radish, spring onions and beetroot for a continuous supply throughout summer.
  • If you live in a warmer part of the country, you can sow sweetcorn directly as long as you give them some protection. You can also start some sweetcorn off indoors.
  • Plant your tomatoes, peppers and chillies into their final positions. If they are to be grown outdoors, give them some protection until the last frosts.

What you can eat now
Depending on the weather, here’s some things you could be eating now.

  • Early salad crops should be ready by now
  • Spring cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale should be ready by now.
  • If you have an asparagus bed that is at least a few years old, harvest the spears when they reach around 6 inches tall by cutting them with a sharp knife below the soil. You can harvest the spears over a period of 6-7 weeks but it’s important to leave at least 6 spears per plant to grow on.

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