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Planning Retirement Online

The Kitchen Garden  

                                     May 2010

Vegetables and Herbs

green vegMay is the month for sowing most vegetables outdoors - French and runner beans, beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, cauliflower, carrots, kale, leeks, lettuce, spring onions, parsnips, spinach and turnips. Try to stagger the sowings so that they crop over a longer period.

Sow seeds of sweetcorn this month in 3in pots at 17C (60F) for planting out next month and begin to harden off home-raised outdoor tomatoes in a cold frame.

Sow pumpkins under glass in individual 3in pots at 65c (22F). Harden off in due course and plant out next month in richly manured land. Make a metre ring of compost around the plant so you can water generously into the cavity.

On indoor tomatoes nip out the sideshoots which sprout away at the leaf joints, and keep the plants well fed.

If the weather is kind, plant out pot-grown plants of sweetcorn, 12-18in apart in square blocks, rather than rows, to assist pollination which is done by wind and not insects. Alternatively, seed can be sown direct in the ground for a later crop.

Cut down some clumps of chives, and feed and water, to keep them coming fresh from the base again. Allow some to flower, but do not let them seed.

Draw up extra soil around the young shoots of early potatoes. This gives the tubers underground some extra protection from light, so they don't turn green. If frost is forecast, protect the plants with horticultural fleece, or more soil.

Look out for blackfly clustering around the tips of broad beans. They are best removed by pinching off the shoot tips and squashing under foot. If you were organised enough to sow French beans last month, plant them out now, at 6in intervals, but be prepared to cover them with fleece overnight in cold spells.

There are lots of tempting herbs on sale at garden centers now. If you grow them in pots, choose a sunny terrace or windowsill and plant into John Innes no 3 compost, which is free-lettuce plantsdraining and easy for roots to settle in. Look out for lemon-scented thyme 'Doone Valley', with golden foliage, and deep-crimson-flowered thyme 'Ruby Glow.' No herb garden should be without rosemary and lavender, and basil can go outdoors next month.

We are really into the salad season now. Sow assorted salads every couple of weeks for continuous supplies and keep a sharp eye on their watering needs, the odd light drizzle of rain is not enough.

Place a collar of felt around the stems of cabbage when planting out to protect from cabbage root fly.



ApplesWith a little luck, you may begin to see the first fruit on your strawberries by late this month. The birds will enjoy them very much if you don't provide some protective netting over them. Newly planted strawberries should have the blossoms picked off until they become well established. Tuck straw among the plants to keep the fruit clean from soil splashes and to keep the soil moist.

Check the water needs of wall-trained fruits, especially those being grown under glass and make sure that wall-trained fruit trees, especially stone fruits, have had plenty of water if the weather heats up.

  • Prune bush peaches, taking out dead wood and crossing branches, and encouraging an open centre.
  • Raspberry canes should be tied in to straining wires as they grow to prevent wind damage.
  • Apply a good manure mulch to rhubarb and begin to crop before the stems become tough and sour.
  • Continue to protect fruit blossom from late frosts where practical by the use of horticultural fleece.





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Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



RHS gardens


Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-

Do you take advantage of the DEFRA website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new, and special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



The Eden Project


The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...




Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 



Useful reading:-


"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced £5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is £6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

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