Jobs For May

Some handy tips for the month ahead...

Grow Your Own

Now Is The Time To Let Your Tomatoes Grow Away!

• Plant out greenhouse tomatoes once the first truss of flowers has set.
• You can grow them in soil in the border, but it's often best to use other methods, such as growing-bags, 20cm (8in) pots or growing rings filled with potting compost.
• If you find that growing-bags dry out too quickly - and the bottom of the fruit turns black - then cut the bags in half widthways, stand them on end and put one plant in each half.
• Don't forget you'll need to regularly water, feed and support the plants.

Don’t Let Your Raspberries Get Out Of Control

• Thin out crowded raspberry canes ensuring there is sufficient air and light between the branches.
• This will help reduce disease problems and ensure the plant can ripen all the young fruit to maturity.
• Hoe off or pull out raspberry suckers appearing between the rows.

Regulate Your Strawberry Runners For More Fruit

• It's usually best to remove strawberry runners before they start to creep along the ground. If you leave them they will reduce the yield of fruit.
• If you need runners to produce new plants for next year, pinch off the flowers from a couple of plants, which will encourage them to produce runners at the expense of flowers and fruit.
• Peg down the young strawberry plants into small pots of compost. The runner can then be severed once the plant has rooted.
• Early strawberry crops kept under glass, fleece or cloches, should be uncovered, or the greenhouse doors opened, to give pollinating insects access.
• Put down slug controls and straw around outdoor strawberries to keep the developing fruit off the soil.
• The flowers on young strawberries planted this spring are best removed.
• This allows the plants to build up strength for a good crop next year.

Flower Power

Get Those Hanging Baskets Planted Up For Big Bold Displays

• Containers and hanging baskets can be planted up and placed outside towards the end of the month - just make sure a late frost isn't forecast!
• Keep some horticultural fleece handy in case you get caught out.
• You can plant up containers earlier, as long as you have somewhere protected from frost, with good supply of light.
• By planting now they'll look full and ready to burst into colour earlier in the summer.

Create Your Own Drifts Of Hardy Annuals For A Summer Of Colour

• Hardy annual seed can be sown outdoors now where you want them to flower.
• There are lots to choose from including Calendula (pot marigolds), Echium, Eschscholzia (Californian poppies), Limnanthes, Lobularia, love-in-a-mist and Nemophila.
• Marking out irregularly shaped seedbeds and broadcasting drifts of different seed gives a more natural look.
• You may find it easier to sow in rows in these shaped areas; this makes it easier to distinguish between flower and weed seedlings, as you know where the flowers have been sown.
• If you sowed seeds indoors, you can now plant out young plants.

Good Housekeeping

Get In The Greenhouse

Now the weather has warmed up, there's plenty you can be doing inside your greenhouse...

• Use blinds and apply shade paint to the outside of your greenhouse - this will help to avoid temperatures getting too warm.
• Increase ventilation by opening up vents and doors when the sun is out and the temperature is up.
• It's a good idea to damp down the floor in your greenhouse on hot days. This will increase humidity levels and not only benefit plant growth but reduce the risk of pest problems!
• Space plants out as they grow to help prevent disease and pest infections.
• Pop bedding plants outside for a couple of hours a day to begin hardening them off. They will soon get used to the change and will make for better results once planted out permanently.
• Don't forget to regularly water plants, especially seedlings which will need daily attention.
• Continue to prick out and pot on new seedlings and cuttings.
• Try growing on plug plants in your greenhouse. They are a relatively cheap source of a large number of plants, and avoid the need for propagation facilities and time-consuming pricking out.

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