As we creep towards the end of May, we thought we’d take a look at the next few weeks. There is still plenty of planting time, so don’t panic if you haven’t got your plants in the ground yet.
Plant, plant, plant! This is our very favourite time of year for planting out pretty much anything in the vegetable garden – peas, carrots, herbs, fruit, companions – the lot! The soil is so much warmer, the daylight hours are longer, and there’s no need to worry about frost. You can just happily plant, protect from pests and keep watering.
Still loads to plant, so just keep going. Sweetcorn, squash, courgettes – these will all do well now that it is warmer. It’s also a good time to plant tender crops like cucumber and tomatoes outside as temperatures are a bit kinder to them. Quick growers like salad leaves, peas and dwarf beans are great to plant now too.
Start watching out for cabbage white butterflies – it’s a good idea to plant some nasturtiums as a sacrificial crop and net brassicas with mesh netting to prevent caterpillar damage. Keep protecting crops from slugs, and also aphids and flea beetle.
Many gardeners feel they have ‘missed’ the season at this time, but that’s not at all true when you’re growing from plug plants. You could happily plant carrots, beetroot, peas and leeks now, even if you already have some on the go – they will crop a little later in autumn. Lettuces and salad leaves will grow fast, so pop some of them in the ground if you have space. You can also plant lots of brassicas – kale, broccoli, cabbage etc – and spinach/chard and you can expect these to see you right through to early winter.
At this point in the summer, you may find fungal diseases starting to creep in – blight, leaf spot, mildew. It’s quite early for it, but if the weather is warm and damp, it can provide the perfect conditions for these fungal diseases. To keep plants healthy, you can use a liquid feed, and/or mulch with compost or leaf mould. Make sure they have sufficient water so that they can draw up the nutrients from the soil. Healthier plants will be better able to withstand disease and pests.
We love July for planting all brassicas – kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, swede – planting them at this point in the year will really help to extend your season so that you have plenty to harvest through late autumn and early winter.
It’s also a great time to ‘plug the gaps’ – pop small plants like wild rocket, lettuces, carrots, spring onions and so on in any gaps that come up after harvesting potatoes, or after losing plants to slugs!
Bolting is quite common at this time of year as the weather is warmer and soil often drier – some plants are more prone than others, eg rocket, mustard leaves, lettuces. Try to water well so that soil temperatures are kept cooler, and mulch if you can. If you planted in April/May, you may have lots to harvest this month too – cut salads regularly to keep them productive, pick peas and beans frequently and they will keep cropping, and enjoy rummaging in the soil for those potatoes!