Grow your own world!

This month in the garden - 2022

May in the Garden

We can be pretty confident now that it will be sunny and hot all the way to September and maybe beyond. It's time to get all the summer veg in the ground. The habas and peas will be coming out freeing up some valuable space in the beds. Garlic will be harvested this month too. All the plants you have grown from seed in your greenhouse can now go out into the garden; tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers, melons, watermelons and pumpkins. Chillies, peppers and aubergines may need a little more time to get big enough to go out. Basil should be nearly there and corn, okra, peanuts and beans can be direct sown. You can also do a second round of pumpkins, courgettes, cucumbers and melons, sowing seeds directly into the beds.

It's really worth taking the time to build some robust structures for your climbing beans and tomato crop. Bamboo poles are much stronger than caña and can be used several years running if they have been stored well, out of the sun and rain. Don't be tempted to reuse caña poles if they look at all fragile. Those tomato plants look small and delicate now but once they are laden with juicy big tomatoes the weight can snap your sub-standard poles and leave you with a chaotic jumble to try and manage. When you are putting the poles in the ground, use a hammer and a length of rebar or metal to make a deep hole. Cut the end of your bamboo or caña pole at an angle and push the pointed end as deep as you can into the soil. Even if you only get every second or third pole nice and deep it will give your whole structure much more stability. If you are growing a lot of tomatoes, rather than have an individual pole for each plant, you can take a tip from the commercial growers and create a top bar between pairs of poles at intervals. Tie the end of a piece of string around the tomato root ball and bury it as you plant the tomato plant. Throw the string up over the crossbar and tie it off. As the tomato plant grows, you can now twist it around the string. This method is great because not only does it save a lot of poles, it saves a lot of fiddly tying up of the plants as they grow.

Sometimes it's hard to remember the best time to sow seeds for some of our favourite plants. Leaving some in the ground to complete their cycle and go to seed means that they will sow themselves the next year and then we don't have to think about it. This works really well for rocket, kale, celery, fennel, cape gooseberries and many flowers – cosmos, nasturtium, poppies, nigella, calendula, sunflowers. They may not come up where we want them, but they can be dug up and moved, as long as we recognise them in their seedling stage and don't pull them out with the weeds. Study your plants and learn to recognise them. Pumpkins, tomatoes and melons will often self seed from the compost heap and can be dug up and moved to your chosen bed. If you have grown different varieties you will have little control over which ones self seed and you will not know which tomatoes you have until they set fruit. You also won't know if different varieties of pumpkins have cross-pollinated but you will know that you have the strongest survivors that self selected to grow in your conditions. You may even end up creating some of your own varieties.

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