Allotment Associations & Horticultural Groups in Harrow, Middlesex
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In May he sings all day - that is what the cuckoo does. The gardeners too might sing with joy as they get busy with all their labours of love. But we must make sure that all threats of cold and frost are over and the garden can be prepared for a bounteous harvest. Nursery and superstores try to entice gardeners into buying bedding plants and planting them straight away, probably hoping they will go back to buy replacements when a cold spell kills their first, early purchases.

Have you been eating runner beans from your freezer store, if so, it’s time to plant the new crop. By the time they push through the danger of severe frost will be fairly remote. If you have pre germinated them under glass they should be hardened off before they are planted out. You do not have to be a Sioux or Comanche to build a wigwam for the beans to grow up, just tie the five or six canes round the top and spread them out. Every garden should have room for some beans, even if a large pot is used, it’s interesting to try different seeds, you could try sowing Polestar which is claimed to be completely string less or sow dwarf beans or French beans.

Sow and plant out lettuce, more peas too.

Thin parsnips and other seedlings.

Earth up potatoes as the top growth appears.

Towards the end of May outdoor tomatoes can be planted. We hope that it will not be a rainy year again so that blight does not destroy the crop. All you can do is to spray the plants regularly, not just once or when you feel like it, with Dithane (or any fungicide) as soon as any fruit appears.

Hanging baskets: If you have a sun lounge, greenhouse or a covered area you plant up hanging baskets when it is too wet to garden outside, then put them onto their brackets during May.

Plant out dahlias when danger of frost is past. Stake the plants with five foot stakes (if using canes, be aware of earwigs that crawl up the canes to feed on the dahlia leaves, cover the tops of the canes with a small flower pot). As with all tender plants be prepared to protect them with stopgap methods, using fleece or newspaper.

Thinking ahead, plant wallflower seeds in a row so the plants can be planted out to provide winter colour.

Lots of veg: sow lettuces, spring onions, radishes at two - three week intervals so you will be supplied throughout the summer.

You can grow sweetcorn. Plant them in a block formation to ensure they get the benefit of wind pollination from the neighbouring plants.

Ralph of Roxbourne Society

•   May events.

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