IN YOUR GARDEN IN MAY

It’s getting near the perfect time for spraying your lawn for weeds, but make sure you feed your lawn first.

Plant runner beans. Runner beans make one of the easiest and most rewarding summer crops. Planted now they'll grow away in the warmer soil and, with plenty of moisture at the roots, they'll quickly twine up their support to produce masses of succulent pods that taste great.

  • Plant up hanging baskets and leave them in a sheltered spot before hanging fully outside.
  • Plant out potted alliums in groups to add interest to flower beds.
  • Water clumps of tulips and spring bulbs with liquid feed.
  • Plant out container-grown roses and shrubs.
  • Keep newly planted trees and shrubs well watered until established.
  • Place collars around the stems of brassicas to prevent an attack of cabbage root fly.
  • Pinch off strawberry runners as soon as they develop, to stop them competing with developing fruit for nutrients.
  • Feed houseplants weekly from now until autumn.
  • Earth up soil around emerging potato shoots, which encourages higher yields.
  • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: radish, spring onions, coriander, parsley and chives.
  • Plant tender crops outside, covering them with cloches when night temperatures fall.
  • In your greenhouse or tunnel open all vents on warm days, but close again in the evening.
  • Hang yellow sticky traps over plants to catch whitefly and flying pests.
  • Plant marigolds beside tomatoes to help keep away aphids.

Give it a try.. for those wanting to be ultra Organic....for a bountiful garden with plenty of vegetables or a simply a long lasting window box, there's one golden rule ; feed your plants in summer, do this every two weeks especially growing in containers. The cheapest fertilizer is other plants; some are so nutritious that they can successfully feed others in the form of a tea! Comfrey is excellent, a deep-rooted hardy perennial which is high in potash, nitrogen and phosphate. To make comfrey tea, cut the leaves right to the ground (an established plant should yield four to five cuts a year) stuff them into a container with a tight lid and add water (roughly a carrier bag of leaves per 100 litres). Let it brew for at least ten days. It’s ready when it stinks so much you can't go near it (hence the lid). If you would like to try this now is the perfect time to sow comfrey seed.

Darling buds of May.  Of all our garden plants lilac is the one that nearly everyone can name. Its distinctive fragrance hits you first before you can even see it. Just one cut stem can scent a room. Lilacs delicate looking blooms comprise of star-like florets in shades from pure white through to mauves and rich purples. There is even a yellow variety. My favourites, however, are 'Madame Lemoine' and  ‘miss Ellen Wilmott' which are  beautiful white varieties, while  'Katherine Havemeyer' is a  very reliable lavender colour and 'Ludwig Spath' is a free-flowering purple. A sunny spot is best, but not in prime-position as they look dull in flower. They’re happiest in deep, fertile moisture retentive soil. Let them grow into a multi-stemmed bush with an open centre to discourage disease and be patient it can take up to three years for them to establish and reward you with full-size blooms. Take care as you deadhead, wait until two shoots form, below the old flower and don't cut these off or you'll miss next year's display.

May