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Top May Allotment Tips

The two Bank Holiday Mondays that we are blessed with this month, come at a perfect time in the allotment calendar. Unquestionably, May is one of the busiest months of the year on our plots. Any extra time off from work is perfect for spending time, working on the jobs to hand.  At this time of year it can feel like our allotments take over our lives!

Plants both indoors and out are growing rapidly now, including the weeds. So far this has been a year for couch grass on my plot, with it seemingly appearing from nowhere! Part of my time is spent combating weeds such as this. Dry warm days are also perfect for hoeing annual weed seeds before they can establish. Perennials of course need more work and there is no substitute for digging out the roots.

I’ve started the hardening off process with my half hardy plants in both the cold frame and unheated greenhouse. Some of the current inhabitants include; Climbing French Bean “Blue lake”, Runner Bean “Scarlet Emperor”, Sweet Corn F1 “Sundance” and Courgette F1 “Defender”.  I hope that all of these will be planted out on my plot by the end of May.

If you are behind with seed sowing or haven’t got a greenhouse, plug plants are a splendid alternative.There are a number of vegetables that there is still time to purchase for cropping this season. Some of the choices available include; courgette, pumpkin, squash and sweet corn.

There is something fulfilling and perfectly natural about sowing seed directly in warm, crumbly soil. At this time of year, we can get stuck in with this enjoyable task, weather permitting. I’ve already sown my parsnips in April, but now I’m turning my attention to Kohl Rabi, beetroot and the final sowings of broad beans and peas. The dependable Carrot, “Autumn King2 ” can also be sown during May or June, and is perfect for maturing late, well into the autumn. I’ve even been known to harvest it from the ground in December. Swede can also be sown this month and next. Do watch out for the flea beetle, which seems to ravage mine every year!

The Codling Moth is a real threat to plotholders who like myself, grow tree fruit.  The resultant caterpillars can make a real mess of apples and also pears. May is the month to fix a codling moth trap to your tree for organic pest control. The trap mimics the pheromone scent of female moths to catch the males. The traps simply hang on a branch and several trees should be protected with one trap. It is a similar story with the plum moth.

Finally we still can’t completely discount the threat of frost.  Potatoes are especially vulnerable at this time of year as they begin to bravely peek above the soil.  Frost protection fleece, laid in double layers over the plants if necessary, is our saviour here. The fleece will protect the young growth from several degrees of frost.

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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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