Gardening in May
Autumn’s final hurrah…
There can be no doubting this month that Winter is almost here! Days are shortening, nights are colder and brisk winds encourage us to rug up before heading outside. There's still so much to enjoy in the garden this month, and it's your last chance to get those bulbs in the ground before the soil gets too cold.
May is also “chrysanthemum month” when we celebrate Mother’s Day with bunches of extravagant blooms from this ever-popular perennial which is at its peak in late autumn.
What to plant now:
May is ideal to get in the last of the tulip bulbs you’ve had chilling in the fridge and there's plenty more to plant.
A few suggestions to get you started:
- Evergreen trees, shrubs and climbers:
Exotic shrubs and climbers like hibiscus, tibouchina, hoya, bougainvillea, bomarea, mandevilla and pink or yellow trumpet vine (allamanda).
Dianthus, pin cushion (scabiosa), gaura.
- Spring flowering bulbs:
Tulip bulbs that have been in the fridge for a few weeks can be planted from the last week of the month.
- Seasonal flowers:
The last seedlings of pansies, violas, bellis, calendulas, cinerarias, cornflowers, polyanthus and primulas should be planted early in the month in cool areas. In warm areas marigolds, impatiens, delphiniums, Iceland poppies, polyanthus, snapdragons and sweet peas will all do well.
The vegetable patch:
There’s not a lot to harvest from the veggie patch now. Harvest bok choi, Brussels sprout, beetroot, broccoli, carrot, cabbage, celery, cauliflower, coriander, leek, kale, lettuce, onion, mesclun, parsley, radish, peas, rhubarb, silverbeet, rocket, spring onion, spinach.
What to plant now:
Veggie patch tips for May:
- Keep veggie crops healthy and growing well with applications of a liquid fertiliser for vegetables and herbs or a certified organic fertiliser every two to three weeks.
- Water deeply at least once a week if the weather is dry.
- Hand pull or hoe out weeds as they appear – they compete for nutrients and moisture and may also harbour pests that could attack your crops.
- Use Garden Galore Quash Slug & Snail Stoppa and slug traps or baits to protect young seedlings.
Fruit & flower beds:
Fruits to harvest now:
There may still be some crops of late season fruits maturing. These include:
- Selected oranges
What fruit to plant:
What flowers to plant
- Sweet pea
- Pansy and viola
- Flowering kale
Garden jobs for the month:
- Keep seedlings growing well with regular applications of an all purpose fertiliser.
- Check camellia flower buds – if they are too crowded then remove some (“disbud”) to allow blooms to develop fully.
- Clean and sharpen your garden tools, especially secateurs, loppers and pruning saws so they are ready for action in winter.
- After dahlias and chrysanthemums have finished flowering, cut plants down to encourage new shoots, which can be taken as struck as “green cuttings” in spring.
- Rake up fallen leaves and either add them in layers to your compost bin or spread them over garden beds, where they will breakdown to produce humus-rich leaf mould.
- Plants inside the home assist in purifying the air as well as lending a touch of greenery to your living areas.
- Over the cooler months, make sure plants are kept out of draughts and away from heaters and air conditioners that can dry the atmosphere.
- Your plants will thrive in temperatures and humidity levels that are most comfortable for you. If your home is heated, place a saucer or bowl of water near your plants but DO NOT stand pots in water!
- Occasionally wipe leaves with a damp cloth (no detergents or oils, please!) to remove dust and dirt that can affect photosynthesis.
- Keep them growing well with ready to use Osmocote Pour+Feed Indoor Plants – no mixing required.
- To improve drainage, aerate your lawn now even if you did it in March or April. This time, use a coring machine to remove larger plugs of soil. This not only helps oxygenate your lawn but also assists it to drain and dry out after rain.
- If your grassed area is small, a stout-pronged garden fork worked back and forth, in rows about 300mm apart, will achieve a similar result.
- If your lawn remains very wet after moderate to heavy rain, then you may need to install a drainage system. This can be done with minimum disturbance using a narrow trenching spade or machine and slotted polypiping that then connects to a sump or stormwater drain.
- Watch for moss in shady, moist areas of lawn. A solution of iron sulfate (30 grams in 4.5L of water) applied as a spray or with the watering will help control it. Re-apply if necessary.
- Top dress with Scotts Lawn Builder Lawn Soil.
- Water entire lawn area, if permitted, to settle topdress mix.
- Fertilise with Lawn Builder All Purpose Slow Release Lawn Fertiliser, Lawn Builder Extreme Green Granular or one of the Lawn Builder hose-on equivalents.
- Keep an eye out for aphids and other insect pests, especially on herbs and vegetable and flower seedlings. Use a general garden insecticide such as pyrethrum to control them. Don’t forget to spray the undersides of leaves too.
- Watch for the caterpillars of the White Cabbage Butterfly on cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and other brassicas. Pyrethrum will assist or try a cabbage dust.
- Slugs and snails can be active over winter – Garden Galore Quash Slug & Snail Stoppa in a bait trap will protect your plants and keep your pets safe.