Can you believe it’s May already? Next month, we’ll be half way through the year…..GULP!!!!
However, before you get too worried about where the times gone, lets think about the good times ahead. We’ve already had some scorching sun up here in Sheffield, likewise for most of the British Isles. What we need now though, is 3/4 months of great growing weather. So as election day looms, I vote for the party who can guarantee sun all day and a nice bit of rain at night, that should be the Gardeners United Party (GUP)!
If you’re wondering what to do today, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure you have bumper crops in the months to come.
Earth up your potatoes. This simply means covering the shoots with soil every time you see them a few inches above the ground level. This will encourage the plants to produce more spuds, but it also protects the delicate shoots from any late frosts that may try and take us by surprise.
I usually earth my spuds up 3 times on the allotment, as after this, the mounds of earth get too high. Alternatively you can grow them in bags (See photo ‘Mayan Gold’), then you just keep adding soil until the bag is almost full, don’t forget you need room for the plant to grow and you should be able to give it a good watering, so don’t fill it to the brim with soil.
Not every tomato plant will have fruit on them yet, but if they do, don’t forget to start feeding them every week with either comfrey tea, or a shop bought tomato food. I haven’t seen a significant difference in crops grown using expensive tomato food, so save yourself some money and get the cheapest one you can find.
As your plants grow, don’t forget to pinch out the side shoots. This means, taking off the little branches that grow from between the stalk and the big leaf. This makes the plant put all its energy into producing more fruit.
When you’ve snapped the shoots off, put them in a container with some water. The shoot will start to produce roots, then you can pot it up. This gives you another tomato plant from something you were going to compost, and you have to admit, we all love something for nothing!
Don’t forget to make sure that any cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts are all watered in any dry spells. I always start mine off in pots so that I can bring them under cover if a frost is predicted, but this makes them susceptible to drying out if we have a sunny spell.
One hint I would give, is, don’t be too eager to plant out any small plants, especially if its cold or wet. Even if the seed packet tells you to plant them out at the end of April/beginning of May, you can hold off for a few weeks until you’re sure they will survive. Otherwise you may loose the plants and have to start again, or even worse, you may have buy small plants to replace yours.
These heritage ‘Red Rubine’ sprouts will be going up to the plot next week. I’ve made sure that the ground is prepared for them with lots of rotted manure, and all the weeds have been removed. This should give them the best start in life, and hopefully produce bumper crops!
May is a great month for gardeners, we start to see plants really put a spurt on. We see results from all the hard work and back breaking digging we’ve put in over the last couple of months. However, remember its not just crops that start to romp away this month, so do the weeds. So, remember the 2 golden rules for May…..WEED it and FEED it!