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Top May Allotment Tips

The month of May on the allotment brings a wonderful mix of planting out or charges, seed sowing, weeding and further ground preparation. The warm spell before Easter brought my early potatoes through and moved everything along nicely. The colder weather since has brought a reality check to the allotment. Horticultural fleece and cloches come into their own at this time of year. There have been several frosts since Easter.

cold frameAn important focus of this month is gradually hardening off our remaining vegetables under glass; ridge cucumbers, pumpkins, runner beans, french beans, squash, sweet corn are just a few I’ll be treating this way. All tender vegetables can be planted out at the end of May or when the risk of frost has passed in your area. The cold frame is perfect for hardening off as we gradually expose our plants to more time outside.

Early in May, I’ll make my last summer sowing of broad beans I enjoy the flavour of the distinctive deep pink variety “Karmazyn”.  My next broad bean sowings will be “Aquadulce Claudia” in November.

Throughout the summer I’ll be making successional sowings every three weeks of radish “rainbow mix”. This is a great choice as several different types are in just the one seed packet. I do think these mixed variety seed packets are a boon for allotment holders. You never know what colour you will get and it makes for a fun guessing game with the children!

lettuce little gemIf you enjoy summer long, fresh allotment grown salads as I do, then May to September is the perfect period to also sow spring onion “red and white mix”, lettuce “ little gem” (which are great for one meal and summer) and salad leaves “full on and fiery”. This packet contains some turbo powered zing with spicy mustards, mizuna and wild rocket to choose from. No longer can salads be considered uninteresting and dull.

I’ll also be making my first sowing of Swede” Invitation”. This is a time-served variety I’ve had a lot of success with over the years. It is easy to grow and club root resistant too.

At this time of year, early directly sown carrots invariably need thinning out. This job is best done during late evening during still conditions. This will reduce the chances of alerting any carrot fly nearby. I keep my rows of carrots covered with fleece or create a barrier around the plants.

In the greenhouse and polytunnel it is an equally busy time. Continue to pot on tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines and peppers as required. Maintain good ventilation. More space will become available as summer bedding plants are hardened off.



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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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