The ground rules for May | Allan Jenkins

Last updated: 05-08-2018

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The ground rules for May | Allan Jenkins

It’s all systems go in the garden now May is here

The May days. No more excuses and no more frost (everything crossed), all systems go for growth. Time to sow outdoors summer flowers and food. Time to clean and clear pots and windowboxes (first change the soil, but use peat-free compost if possible, please). Time to introduce new plants, to support small growers and your local garden centre.

May is good for sowing hardy annuals in situ, to fill a flowerbed. I am a fan of Higgledy Garden seed ( Ben Ranyard lives in a narrow boat with his dog, Flash. He grows good flowers and sells fine seed. You may have your own favoured supplier, but if you don’t, Ben’s seeds are hard to beat, and the website’s growing guides, too.

I will be out on the allotment a lot, anxious to make up for lost time, sowing in the early morning and late evening; watering, weeding, wandering around with a hoe. May days are long, the mornings magical. I feel like a cow released to pasture or a lurcher let out of the car.

I am acutely aware that not everyone has outside space but, if you do, however small, maybe grow herbs on a windowsill, potatoes in a pot, tomatoes in a bag, or salad shoots in an indoor propagator. There is joy in nurturing from seed to flower to fruit, eating leaves you’ve helped make happen.

If you have a veg patch, most everything is good to grow now: peas, beans, summer squash, spinach, chard, roots, lettuces of every variety. Crop some for cut-and-come-again, but try to grow, say, interesting salads not easily found in shops. Swap seed with other growers (most everyone buys too much), see what grows well in neighbouring soil, talk to the old gardeners. They’ll know what works well where you are. Good luck. Make hay while the sun shines.

Plot 29 by Allan Jenkins (4th Estate, £9.99) is out in paperback. Buy it for £8.49

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