Monthly Tasks: Elder Stubbs Charity allotments is a member of NSALG (National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners) and their website gives a lot of useful information (www.nsalg.org.uk). This monthly task list is based predominantly from information from them.
Overview: May is often thought of as the first month of summer but it marks the end of Spring. It is a month when we can be caught out by mini droughts and heat waves, which can be the biggest threat to any young plants that have recently been transplanted into the open ground or newly emerging seedlings.
Be sure to monitor watering and with young transplants if they look to be flagging from the heat of the sun or drying winds give some shade or wind protection.
May can also be a month with disastrous late frosts and it is helpful to plan for suitable protection where necessary. Heavy rain or hail may also create problems and again where possible provide protection.
Harvest: Sprouting broccoli, cabbage, spinach, rhubarb, spring onions, early sown lettuce, beetroot, radish and peas. Cut asparagus regularly to maintain supply.
Use up the last of the leeks. Clear away any old or finished crops and dig over the soil and prepare ready for the next crop.
General: Thin out whilst still very small, the seedlings of beetroot, carrots, lettuce, onions, parsnips, turnips and always water along the row to settle the disturbed seedlings back in, once the job is completed.
Put up poles for runner and climbing French beans. Support peas and broad beans before they become too tall. Start to earth up potatoes especially if a frost is forecast (covering with grass mowings can also be a useful protection).
Keep hoeing between crops to control weeds and create a “dust mulch” to preserve precious soil moisture. try to water in the cool of the evening if possible using a watering can to direct the water around the root area of the crops.
If you can get it, put some straw under the developing strawberry fruits to keep them off the soil and try to avoid watering them overhead to reduce any problems with mildew.
Start to remove the side shoots on tomatoes.
Pests and diseases: Look out for blackly on broad beans (active ants are a good indicator), grewnfly on peas, lettuce, cabbage root fly, carrot fly. A low toxic remedy can be spraying the affected plants with soapy water (diluted washing up liquid) or squash the flies with your thumb and finger.
Broad beans – Black fly infestations can be reduced by pinching out the affected tops of the plants where the blackly collects.