Garden Club May
May is one of the best times of the year in the Garden Club. Containers, beds, borders, veg plots and lawns will be coming alive with new growth so there's lots to keep us busy while you're outside enjoying the last month of spring; you'll then be able to reap the rewards while you're playing or learning outside over the summer months.
Pocket Money Gardening
If you are short of pocket money now is the time to offer your services to your Grandparents, extended family or even the neighbours depending up you age.
The lawn should now be in its prime, and it will probably be mowing at least once a week to keep it looking it’s best and edging will be needed to keep them tidy.
The water butts will be full and the plants will need watering regularly during prolonged dry spells. It can be heavy work and time consuming. Somebody has to do it and it might as well be you!
Treating wooden garden furniture, decking might need a clean down.
Fences might need a coat of something.
Keeping paths clear of algae and weeds, drives and patios could do with a good clean.
Trim hedges and bushes is another pocket money raising idea for you, but do check for bird’s nests before you start. Lots of gardeners don’t mind the ‘cutting bit’ but the ‘clearing up bit’ is the task they don’t like so much so appear helpfully with your broom in hand when asking. If the hedge is tall somebody at the bottom of the ladder is excellent health and safety and does not require too much work.
Finally, another boring job but that could yield some more pocket money is the war on weeds, hoeing the borders to keep young weeds from getting established and is a task you could offer to do.
Garden Club Science
In the evening, go on a slug and snail hunt. This could earn you some pocket money but you will also have a collection of animals to do a great project on, see me for the Snail Science pack.
By now your frogspawn should have turned into tadpoles, so you can start some careful pond maintenance. Pond weed will cover the surface of a pond in a matter of days. Go carefully as you do this task as there may be some newts living in the bottom of your pond. Leave the pond weed on the side of the pond for a few days to let anything living in there to crawl back into the pond. See our Pond Project.
Set up bee hotels for solitary bees, see our Bee Project.
Replace barley straw bundles, and keep pumps going to circulate and oxygenate the water, which in turn will keep it clear. If you’re building a pond then now is the time to get the job done, as the warmer days will allow you to dig and line the pond without getting too muddy!
By mid-May, the soil will have heated up nicely and the threat of frosts should have now past. However, keep an eye on that weather forecast, the UK has had snow in May a number of times.
The Garden Club Essential Checklist for May
Early potatoes will need ‘earthing up’ to maximise the yield and to stop the tubers from going green.
Getting your kitchen herbs well established and watering regularly.
Remove any early spring bedding plants like forget-me-nots as they’ll be looking a little tired and scruffy by now.
Keep a close eye for pests - treat vulnerable areas with an organic pesticide like nematodes and ladybirds.
Harden off young plants, using a cold frame or popping them outside during the day. If the weather gets too cold or wet then bring them back inside until it warms up again.
Sow salad crops every couple of weeks to get a continuous supply going.
Make sure strawberry runners are nipped off so that the plant focuses its energy into producing fruit. Pot these up and care for them you can either swop them later with others in the Garden Club or sell them on at a car boot.
Garden Club Flowers
May is the time when you can really start filling your flower area out. The early spring flush is over, but remember to wait until tulip, daffodil and bluebell foliage has died back before cutting them.
You can also lift and divide spring bulbs and replant them elsewhere for next season, and give your summer bulbs room to flourish. This way you won’t have to spend any of your hard-earnt pocket money on bulbs for next year.
Once you’re absolutely sure you’re not going to get a sudden frost, it’s time to plant out the dahlias.
Feed young seedlings and plants once a week with a good quality liquid feed, but remember to avoid splashing too much on the leaves as the feed may scorch delicate foliage.
If you’re passionate about sweet peas (as I know some of you are) then look out for Sweet Pea feed, which will really give your sweet peas a boost.
Garden Club Fruit
Soft fruit is really getting started now, and that makes it almost irresistible to pests and birds. If you’re growing currants or berries, now is the time to make sure they’re properly netted to keep fledgling blackbirds in particular away from those tasty buds.
Strawberries are putting out runners to produce new plants, so you’ll need to nip them off to make sure the plant puts its energy into producing fruit, rather than runners. However, if your strawberry plants are 3 years old this year, make sure you pot up the runners for new plants next year.
Summer raspberries will need tying up, while gooseberries will benefit from a feed at the end of the month.
Garden Club Vegetables
Will these slugs never stop? – No and that why you need to go on the evening hunt! Brassicas are particularly vulnerable, although you’ll need to defend all of the vegetables you have planted apart from leeks and onions.
The other big problem to look out for is Cabbage White Butterfly eggs. You’ll usually find them on the underside of leaves – look for clusters of white eggs and rub them off with your fingers if you find any. If leaves are particularly badly infested, remove the entire leaf and dispose of it.
Beans will need plenty of support now, so build wigwams for climbers.
Weekly feeds will keep everything growing nicely, while regular hoeing will keep the weeds at bay.