Get growing edibles in May
Find out which delicious veg and fruit you can grow and harvest this month, with Rosie Yeomans
It can often feel like the fruit and veg plot is running away from you at this time of year. There's so much to do! It's a month of nurturing young plants in preparation for life outdoors and continuing to sow for more crops.
Rosie Yeomans shares some of the things she'll be prioritising in May, in the short video below.
More fruit and veg advice:
May fruit and veg inspiration
Rosie's jobs for the month:
Plant tomatoes outside
It’s time to choose a sunny spot to plant some tomatoes out into the garden. Tomatoes are hungry feeders so to get them off to a really good start I mix composted manure and a handful of chicken pellets into the planting hole. Water the hole and soak the plants before they go in. Take the pots off the roots then plant into the mixture. Firm them in and I don’t worry if the lower stem is buried, I just pinch out any leaves to avoid burying them. It’s also a good idea to make the soil level around the plants a little lower so that water efficiently gravitates to them. Whether you are growing bush or single-stemmed cordon tomatoes, they’ll need a stake to support the weight of fruit.
Make comfrey feed
I grow a patch of the non-invasive 'Bocking 14' strain of comfrey behind the greenhouse to use for making my own liquid feed. It’s rich in all the main nutrients. Cut leaves can be steeped in a bucket of water but it’s a really, really smelly operation. It’s much more sociable to make a concentrate instead. I cut the bottom off a 3 litre drinks bottle, take the lid off and turn it the other way up to make it a funnel. Stuff the bottle with chopped up or bruised leaves, really push them in with a stick until you can’t get any more in, then just leave it balanced on top of a jar. After a week or two you’ll notice the dark liquid dripping from the bottom. This can be added at a rate of 10ml per litre to the watering can to feed your plants. Be warned the moment the concentrate meets the water you’ll notice the smell.
Straw and net the strawberries
Get a bag of straw and some netting to protect your strawberry crop from birds in summer. I start by tidying through the bed to get rid of weeds and old leaves, as you work, you’ll aerate the soil around the plants and also be able to evict slugs that are using the foliage for cover. Stuff straw under the plants, tucking it in, particularly under the trusses of flowers. Mulch the whole bed. I find covering the bed with netting can get me in a right tangle so I lay it out first them drag it over. Draping it over a frame or hoops makes it easy to pull off for picking. I use fishing weights tied along the net at ground level to stop the birds getting in but pegs pushed in and canes or poles laid along the edge work as well.
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Succession sow salad leaves
I don’t want to eat 10 lettuces at once or see them bolting, so I keep the seed packets handy to remind me to sow every couple of weeks, so they’ll mature right through the summer. Sow thinly in short rows in the gaps between other crops. You’ll harvest them way before their neighbouring crops are ready. I grow mine between wide-spaced rows of beetroot, spring onions and carrots. Later, I sow them under young sweetcorn plants and amongst the leeks. It’s ok to grow them in the same spot again and again in one season but it’s worth rotating them next year. Hearting lettuce take about 10 weeks to mature, but I like to use loose leaf lettuce, greek cress and annual spinach which can be harvested in as little as six weeks from summer sowings.