May Grower's Calendar

Preparation

Finish preparing remaining beds for early summer sowing. May is the time to get those outdoor beds ready for early summer transplanting. Fork over and rake. Don't tread!

To do List

  • Earth up potatoes as the plants develop – covering stem with soil encourages potato growth.
  • Put protective barrier around your carrots to thwart the dastardly carrot root fly.
  • Regularly hoe weeds and mulch.
  • Water outdoors if required and also continue your watering and ventilation routine in the polytunnel or greenhouse.
  • Support tomato plants as they grow and remove the side shoots as they appear (in the angle between the stem and the trusses). As plants start to flower, tap the flowers to spread pollen and improve fruiting.
  • Be vigilant for pests and diseases (e.g. carrot root fly, aphids, caterpillars, rabbits, slugs and snails).
  • Support your pea and bean plants - twiggy sticks, pea netting, timber supports with chicken wire, or existing fence or hedge.
  • Pinch out the growing tips of broad beans plants to help prevent Blackfly.

Sowing Seeds

May is the last chance to catch up on seed sowing. It's a good month for sowing, especially if you get the seeds in before the middle of the month and many of the crops you sow in May will catch up with seeds sown in earlier months.

Indoors for planting on later: basil, dill, coriander, courgette, cucumber, sweet corn, melon, pumpkins, marrow, summer savory (great companion herb for growing and cooking with Broad Beans).

Outdoors: winter cauliflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, sprouting broccoli, leeks, beans (French, Runner, Climbing French), beetroot, parsnip, turnip, swedes, radish, lettuce, peas, broccoli, rocket, carrots. You could also try an extra harvest of early spuds by planting an additional row wherever you can accommodate them.

Planting Out

Harden off and begin to plant out seedlings you have lovingly raised indoors – e.g. tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, chilli-pepper, celery, celeriac, brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, cabbages, sweet corn, leeks. Sweet potatoes – not related to the humble spud (and therefore not susceptible to blight!) they prefer a sandy soil and do not like a rich soil. They must be harvested before the first frosts in winter and like pumpkins, left to dry for about ten days in the sun before storage.

Harvesting – what's in season?

May is another tricky "gap" month as stores continue to dwindle. You may however start getting some new spuds, particularly if you sowed an early crop in the polytunnel back in February. Continue picking asparagus, radish, rhubarb, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach and chard. May is likely to see the first real bumper salad leaves like lettuce and rocket – as well as the first garlic, beetroot and globe artichokes. The end of this month sees the first of the real (i.e. out-doored reared, grass fed) spring lambs.