A busy month ahead especially when the threat of frost is over and plants can be safely put out. Keep an eye on the weather forecast; so long as it is not cold, and plants have been hardened off, the earlier bedding plants such as petunias, begonias, salvias and lobelia etc can go out the better so plan now. Dahlias and hardy chrysanthemums can also go out. Remember to pinch out side shoots and tendrils of sweet peas if you want larger stronger flowers. Tie in alternate leaves and wait for 4 buds on flowering stems and nip out others if you are exhibiting.
Earth up potatoes or cover with newspaper if frost is likely, sow runner beans, marrows, courgettes, peas, French beans, salads, spinach and root crops for winter storing. Grow climbing French beans to gain more space and especially try climbing blue beans, they crop heavily and are delicious. Watch out for blackfly on the broad beans and pinch put the tips once the lowest pods have set to deter infestation. Tie in greenhouse tomatoes and pinch out any side shoots, except on bush varieties ( these will root and usefully make more plants if potted on).
Those with fruit trees can prune plums and cherries this month and pinch out shoots on grapevines. Its also a good time to put out pheromone traps for the apple, plum and raspberry fly. Talking of ‘nasties’ keep an eye out for snails and slugs, especially on the lupins, hostas and lettuces and pick them off after dark or use pet and bird and pet friendly pellets ie ones not containing metaldehyde.
Hopefully you weren’t caught out by the frost in early May. If you were and your potatoes weren’t protected, don’t despair, they will come again although the crop will be somewhat later and with a reduced yield. Some of us found that young shoots of camellias and astilbes were scorched to but they seem to be recovering now.
The end of May and early June are perhaps the most wonderful and satisfying time of year with magnificent display of colours in the borders. azaleas, rhododendrons, irises and lupins stand proud. Foliage is at its best and roses abound. There is still work to do but do take time to soak in the glorious show the garden puts on.
Plant out cauliflowers in rich soil. Plant out Brussels sprouts, courgettes, marrows and keep them watered. Sow beetroot, turnip and runner beans for succession and thin earlier sowings. Later in the month plant out leeks by simply making a hole with a dibber, dropping the seedlings in and filling up the hole with water to settle then in. Weeds will be growing like fury so keep the hoe moving and where necessary, such as the onion bed, weed by hand. Earth up the potatoes to prevent the one near the surface going green. Watch out for carrot root fly, and the leek fly, which has become such a pest in this area. Use fleece to cover where necessary. Plant outdoor tomatoes.
June is a good time to apply selective weed killer to the lawn and add a feed too but water in if it doesn’t rain. If there’s a drought then don’t mow the grass too short – its’ a good idea to raise the blades a notch or two.
In the flower garden it is time to plant out bedding plants and patio containers and provide support for tall plants such as delphiniums. Spring flowering shrubs may be pruned once the flowers have faded such as, weigela and mock orange. Lilacs too should be pruned down to the next two shoots below the flowers and broom leaving about a third of the current season’s growth. Once again check for slugs and snails and pick them off and dispose them. Do it now before they lay any more eggs !!