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A Guide to Gardening in May for Beginners

As a gardener, May is a busy time as spring is in full force and nature is fully alive. Between the buzzing bees around your garden and the smell of BBQs in the air, you can plant crops during this month.

After waiting for the weather to pick up and become warmer you’ll be eager to get outside and tend to your plants. But, before you can start seeing your crops grow and flowers bloom then you need to have an action plan prepared.

Otherwise, you might end up wasting time when you could make progress. If you’re looking for a list of things to grow in May then keep reading!

What to Plant in May

The first thing you can start growing in May is strawberries. Nothing beats the flavour of a freshly picked strawberry. The good news is, strawberries are easy to grow so you don’t need years of experience to be able to plant them in your garden.

They are also frosted hardy perennials so once you decide on a location they will grow in the same spot for the next few years. Therefore, it’s important to choose wisely when planning your garden area.

It’s also a good idea to make a fruit cage to protect your strawberries from birds as they will most likely see the fruit and want to snack on them. Although buying cages can be expensive you can always make your own at home…

As long as you have bamboo sticks, simple connecting joints, and a net to act as a cover then you can easily make your own fruit cage for the strawberries.

Other Things to Grow in May

Alternatively, if you don’t want to plant strawberries there are some other options to try planting in May. Here are some other suggestions:

  • Broad beans
  • Runner beans
  • Peas
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Salad crops
  • Leeks
  • Potatoes

If this is your first spring growing crops in your garden then you should start with herbs and salad. These are great as they are easy to look after and you don’t need a huge amount of space. You plant thyme, rosemary, parsley, and mint in May.

Whereas you can sow basil, coriander, dill, and basil during this month but you should keep them contained in glass and plant them later in the month towards June. They are more tender so they need extra time before being planted in the ground.

And, you can also plant some lovely flowers!

For example, sweet peas are perfect for growing in May when the weather is still moderately warm and the last frost has passed. They produce amazing colours and can complement other garden crops when the sun is shining.

Growing Sweet Peas

If you’re interested in growing sweet peas then you need to find fertile soil. Meaning, the soil should retain moisture and drains well. As well as fertile soil you also need to plant these seeds in a sunny spot.

They need a lot of sunshine to grow so don’t pick a shaded area that doesn’t get light during the day. After you’ve decided on the location you can plant the seeds 2-3cm deep into the compost and only start watering once you see the seedlings coming through.

For sweet peas, you will normally start seeing growth at around 10-14 days. Until then you should focus on keeping mice away because they like this type of flower and might eat away at your petals.

An open space is better for this so you can see the mice coming in advance.

What Not to Grow in May

You might be tempted to start growing more plants than you should in May because the weather is warm but there are some crops that you should postpone until early June. For instance, more tender vegetables like French beans, cucumbers, melons, and courgettes need to wait.

If you have a greenhouse you can grow tomatoes as they need a little more care and attention so keeping them guarded and temperature-controlled is a good idea. In the meantime, you can take care of your perennials as the weather will be warm enough to be outside.

The Chelsea Chop

The Chelsea Chop method is when gardeners cut back perennials which makes them bushier and flower slightly later. If you do this in May it will ensure that your perennials bloom in the coming months.

Basically, the Chelsea Chop refers to light pruning and caring for your plants. You should trim at least a third of the volume for the best results. Even though May is great for tending to your perennials you can always do this in June as well.

In addition to pruning, you can also feed your other plants. All you need to do is sprinkle in some light fertiliser after using a hand rake to separate the soil. Then, you should work in the soil after the fertiliser has been applied.

The warm weather also encourages climbing plants to go through a growth phase so it’s important to give them the right support mechanisms. Placing supportive material will help you guide the direction of growth and avoid it getting out of control.

Train Climbing Plants

If you have clematis, climbing hydrangeas, passion flowers, and climbing roses then you have a climbing plant and you’ll need to train them. The first way to support these types of plants is wire.

For strong, durable material then a wire is the best option. You can place the wire horizontally over the plant and attach the pieces 45cm apart. Often you’ll find climbing plants on a wall or fence so it will easy tame them.

Of course, you’ll also have to keep an eye out for pests and diseases as the weather heats up. As the sun comes out so do the wildlife. To avoid your crops dying quickly you should prepare beforehand and learn about the common garden problems in May.

Common Garden Problems in May

Experienced gardeners will tell you to keep your garden clean and tidy so that pests don’t inhabit your crops. May is a wonderful time to dedicate some hours to picking up rubbish, removing extra debris, and cutting the grass.

However, no matter how hard you try to maintain the pests you can still experience issues.

1.    Leaf Miners

Leaf miners refer to a variety of pests such as moths, flies, and beetles. These insects are often found in your garden in spring so you can’t completely avoid them. Mostly, these leaf miners won’t cause significant harm but sometimes you can have a crowd of them.

If that’s the case then you can use sticky traps or soap. You can apply either to a small area or remove the entire plant. Hopefully, you won’t have to do that but if you check up on your plants regularly you can spot any early signs.

2.    Slugs

These slow-moving pests might look harmless but they can destroy a lovely spring crop. Slugs will hide in cool, dark places during the day and come out in the evening. So, you should look at your crops first thing in the morning to see if there are any holes or fewer leaves.

As you can see there are too many pests to worry about in May. In order to get the best spring garden then you’ll need the right tools, right?

Best Garden Tools

Gardening can be tiring as you move around in the heat all day so having some small comforts will make planting your crops in May more enjoyable. The first thing to buy is a knee pad. This will save your knees from damage over time and feel better than the ground.

You’ll also have to buy a good pair of gardening gloves. Unless the material is thick enough you could end up with cuts and bruises from sticks and branches around your property. A few other essentials are:

  • Pruning Shears
  • Garden Fork
  • Spade
  • Hoe
  • Watering Can
  • Bucket

Now, you have all the information you need to plant in May and grow a vibrant patch of crops. Then, you can focus on planning for the rest of the year and organising your seeds. This is just the beginning of an exciting journey so enjoy every moment of it.

Just remember to take a moment to sit in the sun between doing these garden tasks and planting seeds!