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Tips for your gardening in May

Gardening tips for May

The growing season is careering along at full pelt. We should not be beguiled by warmer weather: frosts are still a risk until the end of May. Tender plants such as cannas, begonias, dahlias and pelargoniums should be protected from frost as should tender vegetables such as tomatoes, runner beans and courgettes.

Spring flowering shrubs such as quince (Chaenomeles) can be pruned to keep them compact. Clematis, roses, wisteria and other climbers will need tying in. Tall plants such as delphiniums should be staked – it is all too easy to leave this task for another day with disastrous consequences.

Potatoes will be showing growth and should be given a first earthing up. If grown in open ground, this means covering the emerging leaves with soil; potatoes grown in containers can be topped up with extra compost.

The first UK report of allium leaf miner(Phytomyza gymnostoma) was from plants affected in Tettenhall in 2002. Covering plants from the allium family with enviromesh will help prevent infestations.

Lily beetles will be active: their bright red colour makes them easy to spot and remove.

Seed sowing of all kinds continues at a rate of knots. Seeds sown under glass can be susceptible to damping off. Avoid this problem by maintaining good hygiene, providing good ventilation and not overwatering.

Spring bulbs will be past their best now and can be given a feed such as bonemeal to help them build up reserves for next year. Early-flowerers such as forget-me-nots and wallflowers will soon be past their best and can be removed; they will happily self-seed if left to their own devices.

Turn your back on weeds and they will soon gain the upper hand. Weeds are prolific self-seeders and their survival instinct is well-honed. Weeds such as chickweed can set thousands of seeds per plant. Keep the hoe moving and remember the old adage: if you hoe before you see a weed, you’ll never see a weed.

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