This month the main planting of bedding plants should be done after first clearing and hoeing the required spaces. During dry periods it will probably be necessary to water the garden but this should only be done when the need is certain. Themay well look dry on the surface but before applying water, scrape the soil away to see how damp it is lower down. If it is found that the soil is definitely dry a good soaking once a week will do more good than a little watering each day.
Remove spring flowers which have finished blooming and lift any remaining spring flowering bulbs with the exception of, snowdrops and crocuses and pack them into boxes with some soil adhering to their roots. These boxes can be stood in a corner of the garden until the leaves have turned brown.
Any clear patches in the border can be forked over and after somehas been incorporated, plantings of sweet alyssum, antirrhinums, stocks and nasturtiums can be made.
Only towards the end of the month will it be safe to plant out geraniums and other plants still liable to be affected by the arrival of late frosts.
such as wallflowers, sweet williams and canterbury bells may now be planted in the seed bed as results are always much better when they have been given the chance of a long growing period. When the seeds have germinated and they are big enough to handle, plant them into rows, still in the seed bed, allowing 6 – 8” between each plant. Keep the soil between the rows regularly hoed until the autumn when they can be transplanted into the border.
Theshould by now be looking at its best and if there are any spaces yet to be filled plant some seeds of aubrietia, campanula, primula or yellow alyssum. Spring flowering plants such as primroses can be divided now and all late flowering planted out into their positions.
During May the mower blades may again be re-set for a shorter cut and frequency of mowing increased to something like once a week.
If necessary this is the time to treat lawnwith a selective weed-killer and this should be applied on days when soil is moist and there is no wind about to spread the chemicals to other parts of the garden.
During dry spells or droughts the lawn should be given sufficient water, not however a little each day, but a good soaking with the aid of a lawn sprinkler once a week. In this way the water has a chance to drain away and let air back into the roots. Too frequent watering will end up with the likelihood of moss appearing on the lawn surface.
Trees and Shrubs
Shrubs which are best pruned following the fading of the flowers such as berberis, forsythia, broom and clematis montana should be attended to now.
, lilacs and philadelphus (mock orange) do not normally need pruning at all but if some trimming up is required it should be done now.
During May the roses will be growing rapidly and getting ready to flower. At this time a good mulching of well rotted manure or compost around each rose will help to keep the soil fed, moist and weed-free.
Liquid fertilizer or other rose food can be applied according to the instructions on the container and are best used on days when the soil is damp.
Keep a watch on the greenfly situation and once they are located a thorough spraying with insecticide is essential. If suckers appear from below thepoint on bushes and standards these should be traced back to their source and pulled off. Cutting at surface level will not eradicate the trouble.
Tomato plants in the border should be in flower and probably showing signs of fruit. These must now be fed with a liquid manure.
Regularly pinch out the unwanted side shoots from the plants as soon as they are big enough to handle. If the weather turns very warm the floor of the house should be damped down and plenty of ventilation given. Shrubs, such as, which have finished blooming in the greenhouse can be slowly hardened off and planted out into the open ground during the summer.
The strawberry plot may now receive an application of liquid manure and any unwanted runners from the main plants be cut off. Clean straw spread around the plants will help to keep the fruit clean.
Generally thin out fruit where necessary as growth continues. Thinnings from gooseberry bushes can be used for cooking but most thinnings are useless and should be added to the compost heap.
Summer pruning of fruit trees is often advised but for the amateur with little knowledge leaving this well alone is recommended.
Gooseberry bushes may at this time of the year be attacked by gooseberry sawfly, and if the leaves are found to be eaten a suitable insecticide should be sprayed over. Greenfly and cuckoo spit should also be sprayed and a fair amount of force used so that the liquid penetrates well into the growth.
Asparagus in established beds can be cut and used but in newly planted beds all that is needed is a regular, careful hoeing to keep down the weeds which have appeared.
Broccoli,and can still be planted to help prolong the season.
Feed outdoor growing tomatoes with some liquid manure and see that all the side shoots are pinched out at least weekly.
A further sowing of turnip seeds can be made and grass(free of weed-killer) spread around the plants to deter the turnip fly.
Continue planting seeds of all salad crops to keep up a continuous supply for the table.
Runner beans raised earlier in boxes can now be planted out and if supports have not been built this should now be taken care of.