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May in the Kitchen Garden

The kitchen garden should be coming into its own now and some of the early crops such as radishes and salad leaves can be harvested now as they mature. Unfortunately, the time has passed for sowing tomato seed. However, you can still buy tomato plants for your garden.

Direct Sowing
As the weather improves and the risk of frost passes, it is possible to carry out some direct sowing. To prevent a glut of produce, continue successional sowing of short rows of the following:
• Beetroot
• Cabbage
• Peas
• Lettuce
• Carrots
• Salad onions
• Broadbeans
• Radishes

Prepare your planting bed for self-blanching celery. Celery requires a lot of water. Incorporating plenty of organic material, such as well rotted manure, will help the soil to retain moisture. Grow self-blanching celery in blocks rather than rows to help the plants shade each other, aiding blanching.

Plant Out
Plant out leeks sown earlier in the year. Plant out in 15cm deep holes at 30cm apart. Do not firm in and water well.
Plant out courghettes started earlier in the year, plant in rows at 90cm apart. They will require plenty of water throughout the growing season.
Plant out brussel sprouts started earlier in the season, plant in rows at 60cm apart each way. Protect from cabbage fly with plant collar fitted around the base of each plant.

Caring for Vegetable & Fruit Crops
• Broad Beans- pinch out the tops after several tiers of flowers have developed. The tender tops are attractive to black fly.
• Protect carrots from Carrot Fly with a fine mesh screen or fleece around the crop. These can be supported with canes or homemade hose/ metal hoops.
• Water plants regularly
• Hoe regularly to keep weeds under control.
• Earth up early potatoes. This helps to protect developing potatoes from light and improves yield. Potatoes turn green when exposed to light and become poisonous.
• Tuck straw under strawberry plants to help retain moisture, protect the fruit from soil splash and slugs. As the fruit develops you may need to protect them from birds with netting.
• Remove runners from strawberries if they are not required to make new plants. The sap energy from the main plant. If they are required to make new plants, retain a maximum of 5 no. per plant and pin each runner into a pot of peat-free compost. Sink the pots into the ground level with the parent plant. When they are rooted and growing, cut the runner from the parent plant.
• If it was not done earlier, mulch fruit with well-rotted manure. Water the soil well before you spread the mulch.
• Prune plums and cherries. These fruit trees are pruned in the spring/ summer to minimise the risk of silver leaf disease.
• Prune out unwanted raspberry canes. If there are too many canes, airflow is limited and it is easier for mould to develop on the fruit.

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