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The fruit and vegetable garden

May 2012




Previously in The Fruit & Vegetable Garden...

April 2012

March 2012

October 2011


Fruit & Veg Garden Index

peppersMay 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 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. 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 and greenhouse tomatoes, nip out the sideshoots which sprout away at the leaf joints, and keep the plants well watered.

Continue to draw up extra soil around the young shoots of early potatoes. This gives the tubers underground some extra protection from light, which prevents them from turning green. If frost is forecast, protect the tender shoots 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.

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

There will be lots of tempting herbs on sale at garden centres now. If you grow them in pots, choose a sunny terrace or windowsill and plant into John Innes no 3 compost, which is free-draining 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. Cut down 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.



raspberriesWith a little luck, you may begin to see the first fruit on your strawberries by late this month, but the birds will enjoy them if you don't provide them with some protective netting. 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 act as a mulch.

Check the watering needs of wall-trained fruits, especially those being grown under glass and make sure that wall-trained fruit trees, especially stone fruits, get plenty of water if the weather heats up, spring can sometimes be quite a dry season

Bush peaches can now be pruned, taking out any dead wood or crossed branches to encourage 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 continue to crop whilst young 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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