The Vegetable Garden in May

The Vegetable Garden in May

I was looking back on my diary and, while we are still probably behind by a couple of weeks, this Spring is nowhere near as cold as last year where we had hard frosts well into early May. Thankfully, the weather in my garden has been good for the past couple of weeks leaving me with a soil that has warmed sufficiently and is nicely drained and ready to work.

For various reasons (mostly, but not all, out of my control), I am way behind in my garden in terms of planting but I did get a full day on Monday to clear and weed the majority of my paths and beds; you wouldn't think it when you look around the place but I actually like hand weeding, especially the vegetable garden where the soil is loose and crumbly. As you probably know, a bacterium in healthy soil (mycobacterium vaccae) has been found to trigger the release of seratonin so, apart from the satisfaction of tidying your beds, hand weeding with a trowel may directly soothe an addled mind (very welcome these days).

Man kneeling on the ground examining soil

Working your way though your beds down at ground level also gives you the opportunity to have a good look what's going on and to appreciate the variety of life in a healthy soil. My weeding marathon helped me appreciate just how far my soil has come from the sticky clay I started with to it's present pleasing state after 12 seasons of adding manure, seaweed or compost.

I needed to be careful to avoid the many earthworms and composting worms (who are feasting on the manure and seaweed). I am always very pleased to see the earthworms as they were a rare sight in the beginning and are a tell tale sign of a good, balanced soil. As for the soil life I can't see, I can tell it is there from the fresh and sweet smell which is another marker of a happy piece of ground.

The sweet small comes from aerobic bacteria and tells me there are plenty of air spaces whereas a wet, compacted soil has a completely different (sour) aroma due to the anaerobic bacteria which operate in airless conditions. So, if you want to do a quick soil test on your garden, check for worms and give it a good sniff.

Trays of vegetable seedlings growing in a polytunnel

Anyway, the point of that little ramble is that early May is the time to sow or plant out nearly all outdoor vegetable crops and that you should have your beds ready to go. If not, as I said in previous mails, the quick all purpose solution is municipal compost (4-5cm layer) and 'Seafeed' seaweed and poultry manure applied at 200g per square metre. The exception will be carrots or parsnips where you should forego the Seafeed but deep rake the municipal compost and Blood, Fish & Bone at a rate of 150g per square metre into the top few inches of soil. Make sure it is very well mixed.

You can either sow direct in May or grow seedlings (baby plants) in trays to plant out later. I much prefer seedlings as they have a number of advantages, principal avoiding poor weather and pests but also because you will be 4 weeks ahead of the season if you started them off in April (seedlings are typically 4 weeks old when planting out).

If you didn't get a chance to sow in April there is no need to worry because we did it for you. We have plenty of 4 week old vegetable plants looking for a new forever home (until you eat them) so why not order a pack and start your garden in an afternoon?

Trays of pea seedlings and other vegetable seedlings

What to Sow & Plant in May

The link above is from last year, I'm not being lazy (I don't think) as all is relevant ti my garden this year (except the cat is a bit bigger now) so I hope you don't mind me including it again. I will write some fresh content next week after a weekend of garden work.

That's it for today, see you all next week!

Andrew