GardenAction Newsletter
May 2007

May 05, 2007


Welcome to the GardenAction newsletter for May 2007 in your garden.

If you have have sown your Brussels Sprouts in a seed bed, early May (or when there is no danger of frost in your area) is the time to transplant them to their final position. The reason for transplanting Brussels Sprouts is that the action of transplanting them and disturbing the roots slightly, helps them establish a good root system. This root system is so neccessary for tall plants which will be subject to strong autumn and winter winds.

The web page link below has some good pictures demonstrating the beneficial effects transplanting has on Brussels Sprouts root system.
Click here
for much more information on sowing and growing Brussels Sprouts.

Continue to sow carrot seeds in May to ensure an even supply of this tasty vegetable. Carrot seed is very small making them hard to sow in the correct amounts (see page link below for why this is important).

Seed tapes or pelleted carrot seed is the answer, they are easy to handle and easy to sow. Sow the seed in well dug soil that is free from stonesThin out sowings made a few weeks earlier - check the web page link below for why this prevents pests and disease and how best to do it.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Continue to sow lettuce over the next few months to ensure a succession of them. If you can, avoid sowing them where they will suffer from the full blast of the early afternoon sun. Lettuces do not appreciate conditions which are too hot, it causes disease and makes them bolt. As with carrots, sow the seed over a period of a couple of months to avoid a glut.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Maincrop varieties of Peas can be sown outside from end April onwards up to June to ensure a succession of this tasty crop.

Click on the page link below for recommended varieties. Remember that fully grown pea plants can cast quite a shadow over smaller vegetables so bear this in mind when deciding where to sow. Peas prefer a lot of sun, but also do well in partial shade especially if that occurs in the hottest part of the day.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on sowing peas.

Sow French Beans outside when all danger of frost has passed - the start of May in average areas. They prefer a well dug soil with lots of nutrients in it. French Beans have deep root systems, so dig deep, a spade and a half deep if possible. As soon as the seedlings begin to appear, put the supports in place.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on sowing french beans.

Sow radishes over a period of months to avoid a glut. They can be sown from mid April onwards. The best position will be sunny but not too hot. If the plants get too hot they will bolt and run to seed, so try to avoid placing them where they get the full sun in the early afternoon. Sowing radish near other larger vegetables may provide the shade radishes need in the middle of the day
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on sowing radishes.

If you are sowing tomato seed directly outside, mid-May is the average time to do this. If you have plants sown indoors which are now growing, mid May is also the time to transplant them into their final positions. Remeber to insert stakes to support them as they grow.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on tomatoes.

Onion seed and sets can still be sown outside up until the end of May. The same goes for spring onions which should sown in succession over the next few months to avoid a glut.

In mid May, all onions, including Japanese Onions appreciate a feed with a nitrogen rich fertiliser. Well rotted compost will do the best, but a handful of Growmore per square yard will also do the trick. Keep them well weeded to avoid competition for nutrients and water.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing onions.

Runner Beans can be sown outside in early May when all danger of frost has passed. Any plants which were started off inside can also be transplanted to their final positions outside in early May.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing runner beans.

Rhubarb is one of the earliest vegetables to be harvested and early May is when your hard work begins to pay off and they can be pulled. Read the article link below to ensure you harvest them correctly to ensure a good crop for many years.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing rhubarb.

Early to mid-May is the time to start earthing up maincrop and new potatoes. This is simply drawing up a little soil from the edges of the bed over the potatoes so that only the foliage part of the plants are uncovered. This encourages the potatoto plants to produce more tubers which means more potatoes for you! This practice has the additional benefit that you can easily weed around the plants at the same time reducing the competition for water and nutrients

Around mid-May the potato plants will start to produce flowers, some varieties more than others. For the best yield of potatoes just pinch off the flowers. If you leave them on, it will reduce the yield slightly but some potato plants produce very attractive flowers for a month or so.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing potatoes.

Sweet corn are very tender so should not be planted outside until all danger of frost outside has passed, on average around mid May. If you have started your sweet corn off inside (as is best in most areas), mid-May is also the time to transplant them outside. If you are growing sweet corn under cloche, mid-May is the time to take away the cloche protection. Watch out for any warm days up till the time when you take off the cloches, the sweet corn will need a lot of ventilation if the temperatures suddenly climb.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing sweet corn.

If you have started off your summer cauliflower under cloches in a seed bed, early May is the time to transplant them to their final positions. The secret to good cauliflower is to avoid any stop in their growth. So apply lots of garden compost around them to give them the nutirnets they need and at the same time keep the moisture in the soil.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Continue to sow a succession of winter cabbage up until the end of May to ensure the longest possible cropping period.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Spring Cabbage should be ready for harvest up until the end of May.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Continue to thin out broccoli seedlings until mid-May. These should be thinned to around 22 cm (9 inches) apart. If you have any garden compost to spare now is a good time to spread it around but not touching the emerging seedlings. The compost will provide all the nutrients they need as well as keeping weeds at bay and preserving moisture in the soil later on in the summer.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Continue to sow beetroot during May to avoid a glut of vegetables later in the season. Beetroot seedlings sown earlier in the season will be appearing soon and these should be thinned out from mid-May onwards. Beetroot seed takes about 15 days for the seedlings to appear, dependant on the weather conditions. Beware of birds eating the new seedlings and cover them with some netting if they are a particular problem in your area.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions on growing beetroot.

Continue to keep strawberry beds well weeded. If the weeds take hold it's very difficult to sort the problem out whilst the strawberries are actively growing. Pinch out any strawbery runners that appear if you want maximum frut production. If you want some more strawberry plants, then leave the runners on a couple of plats and pinch out the flowers. This will increase the production of runners which you can use to create new strawberry plants.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Mint is OK to be planted up until Mid-May. It is a very strong growing plant and is probably best grown in a container.
Click here
for easy to follow instructions.

Gooseberry sawfly can strip plants of foliage in a week and thus is the time of year that they appear. Watch out for leaf damage and treat the plants immediately if you notice any
Click here
for more details.


This month the spotlight is on
June is the best month for propagating clematis from cuttings so now is the time to take a good look round your garden to decide where it would be nice to have a free clematis! Clematis cuttings are taken from stems that have have grown in the current year. Avoid the very young growth at the end of stems which are less like to root.

Clematis cuttings are known as 'internodal' cuttings which means the cuttings are taken between two leaf joints. This method is different from normal cuttings so be sure to click on the link to our clematis propagation pages below. Good clematis for cuttings are the montanas and alpinas which flower early in the year. We have also had great success with taking cuttings of clematis armandii which produce lovely flowers in April and May and at the same time are one of the few evergreen clematis

The second, and easier method, is by layering. Simply hook a part of the stem just below the soil surface and leave for a year! This is best done around autumn time. The new clematis can be separated from the parent the next autumn.

Clematis can also be grown from seed taken in autumn time. This method is a lengthy proceess, not always successful and you will not be sure what type of clematis will come of it. But it is fun and you may well grow a world-beater!
Click here
for lots of information and picture on propagating clematis.

This Month's Recipe
Leek and Potato Soup

This soup is made from winter vegetables like leek, parsnip and carrots. It's easy to vary the vegetables according to what's in your kitchen. It's tasty, nutritious and easy to cook at any time of the year. The recipe has step by step instructions and loads of pictures showing you exactly what to do. I guaranteee it's has personally been cooked and tasted by me and my family - the pictures prove it!
Click here
for this delicious recipe.

Cabbages belong to the Cruciferae family, so called because their flowers have four petals arranged as a cross.  A cross with arms of equal length is a symbol of the sun.

In Irish folklore, cabbages are supposed to reveal a lot about a future spouses.  Blindfolded girls were sent out in pairs to pull the first cabbage they could find.  If there was a lot of earth attached to the root, they would have plenty of money but if there was only a  little earth, they would be poor. The taste of the heart of the cabbage would reveal a lot about the future spouse's disposition - sweet or sour!

Sage, mint, thyme and rosemary all improve by being planted near the cabbage.  When you plant your cabbage plants, plant a stick of rhubarb with them - this prevents club root.  Twist a narrow strip of tinfoil round the roots of your cabbage plants to prevent cabbage fly.

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